Consumers visited restaurants less often during the second quarter, but they don’t appear to be trading down from casual dining to limited-service concepts, according to a consumer survey by research firm Dectiva.
In its quarterly Restaurant Industry Tracking Survey, which asks 2,500 consumers where they spend their dining dollars across the chain restaurant landscape, Dectiva found that the number of respondents who said they dined out a few times a month or more declined across all segments for April, May and June. The survey was conducted in early July.
For the limited-service segment, it was the third consecutive quarter of decline, with 64.8 percent of consumers saying they visited such restaurants at least a few times per month during the quarter, down from 72.5 percent for the same period last year.
In casual dining, 45.4 percent of respondents reported frequent visits, down from 51.2 percent a year ago. Sixteen percent of respondents said they visited fine-dining restaurants at least a few times per month, down from 17.8 percent a year ago.
Despite the decline in restaurant visit frequency, consumers said they spent a greater percentage of their overall restaurant spend at casual-dining restaurants during the quarter, a trend that began in late 2011. This trend indicates that consumers were not trading down to limited service, said Dan Meichenbaum, Dectiva’s director of research.
For the quarter, consumers said 41.5 percent of their total restaurant spending was at casual-dining restaurants, compared with 39.8 percent at limited-service locations and 18.5 percent at fine-dining concepts.
Year over year, the casual-dining segment increased its market share, which grew from 38.5 percent a year ago to 41.5 percent this year.
The amount of the consumer dining dollar devoted to limited-service restaurants, however, has shrunk, declining from 41.4 percent in last year’s second quarter to 39.8 percent this year. Fine dining also saw a decline, from 20.3 percent a year ago to 18.5 percent this year.