How Restaurants Shifted Gears in 2017

Author: Rimma Kats

January 2, 2018

Restaurants struggled in 2017 as high menu prices kept many diners away. Here’s what they learned, in three charts.

No. 1: Getting Over a Hump

Restaurants have struggled to fill tables this year. One of the key contributors to the decline was higher menu prices, according to data from The NPD Group. In a recent study, 30% of consumers said they’ve cut back on visiting restaurants, and three of the top six reasons for the reductions were related to price. Overall, similar studies found that people weren’t eating out as frequently. A June 2017 survey of US adults from Bankrate found that one in five respondents said they don’t eat meals out at all, and another 20% said they do so just once a week. 

No. 2: Fighting Back with Loyalty

Because of high menu prices, price comparison and deal hunting have become common among mobile consumers—especially millennials. Data from Lab42 found that roughly three-quarters of US millennials polled in March 2017 consider loyalty programs an important influence when making a purchase. In essence, loyalty programs are used often and can lead to repeat users. Because of this, more companies like Moe’s Southwest Grill and Pizza Hut have introduced loyalty apps to attract consumers and drive traffic to their locations. 

No. 3: It’s All About Convenience … and Digital

While restaurants may be in the throes of a long slump, there’s a bright spot in 2018 for the industry—and it all comes down to convenience. According to research from The NPD Group, nearly half of dinners purchased from a restaurant are now eaten at home, up from 47% in 2012. Separate data from Cowen and Company found that US restaurant delivery sales will rise an average of 12% per year to $76 billion in 2022, up 77% from $43 billion in 2017.