Foodservice Equipment Reports

Older Americans Increase Restaurant Visits, While Younger Consumers Cut Back, Says NPD

It really just comes down to money. A new report from The NPD Group details how older Americans, those 55 and older, have increased their visits to restaurants of all kinds since 2008, while younger Americans have rather dramatically cut back. What NPD calls “older boomers,” those 55 to 64, now have the highest per capita number of visits of any demographic group, 220 per year. So-called “mature traditionalists,” those 65 and older, have seen the largest percentage gain. Historically those over 65 had the lowest restaurant usage rates.

Meanwhile, the large group of adults aged 18 to 47 has seen per capita visits plummet from 240 times a year in ’08 to 211 in ’12. Layoffs and unemployment has hit these ages hard, while older consumers, particularly those older than 65, have seen relatively stable incomes because of Social Security and other pension benefits. “Younger boomers,” aged 48-54, have also cut back visits, but not as dramatically. From a day-part standpoint, the traffic surge by older consumers has driven visit rates for breakfast higher. Traffic at breakfast grew 2% in the year ended September ’12, NPD says.

Noting the flat restaurant market in the U.S., NPD restaurant analyst Bonnie Riggs said, “Market share capture remains the growth path for restaurant operators.” Focusing on older age demographics showing increasing use of restaurants “eases the struggle.” But she cautions operators need to “recognize what it is they want from their restaurant experiences.”

Information on the report, Boomers and Beyond—Targeting for Success, can be found at npd.com.