The lure of dining out might be on the wane, at least just a bit, in the United States. In fact, overall, the trend is a downward one when it comes to eating at all.
As NBC News reports, market research firm NDP Group has estimated that overall, people in the United States are eating less frequently, which has been, well, eating into the number of times that they dine out.
The numbers, as put forth this week by NDP Analyst David Portalatin, who covers food and beverage, show that in the U.S., consumers mark 1,473 “eating occasions” annually. That tally is down 3.8 percent from 2008, when they had 1,532 occasions. Interestingly, the data shows that if all meals and snacks are included, Americans still chow down four times each day. Expand the average into aggregate headline numbers, said the site, and the number mushrooms to 451 billion eating occasions, a tally that will expand as the population grows.
There are some demographics at work here, as Portalatin has said that an aging of the population – particularly among boomers – has reduced the frequency of eating, which stands in contrast to the increase that marks the teen years to the late 50s. The boomers are in fact overshadowing the growth that is being seen with the millennial population.
In reference to dining out – and a possible read across for restaurants – NDP has also estimated that people are dining more often at home: 80 percent of the time, versus 75 percent seen in 2008. Inflation tied to eating out was noted by NBC, which said that restaurant meal prices have gained 2.2 percent annually, outpacing the cost of meals prepared and consumed in the home.
Said Portalatin, as quoted by the news site, “we've had a 21 percent increase of people over 65 who don't eat out at the same rate.” The average millennial dines out about 241 times a year, as the analyst noted. "A decade ago, that number would have been 257 times."
In a deep dive into how America eats published last month, PYMNTS found that even as people may be eating at home more, the shift in spending has been away from grocery stores. The rise of meal kits and online delivery options (along with mobile ordering technologies) has meant that slightly less than half of spending has been at grocery stores, with growing average ticket sizes.
And as noted by PYMNTS’ Karen Webster a few weeks ago in this space, restaurants are seeing traction in online delivery services, which may be pressuring the in-restaurant trend as well, as evidenced by Grubhub and other firms changing the restaurant ordering experience. Earlier this year, the company announced its acquisition of LevelUp, which boosts online ordering and delivery efforts.