The Rejuvenated Affluent Consumer Holds Key to Casual and Fine Dining Restaurant Resurgence

SOURCE: Packaged Facts

NEW YORK, NY–(Marketwire – October 28, 2010) –  Conventional wisdom might suggest that more gloom lies ahead for the U.S. foodservice industry. However, hope in the form of a rejuvenated affluent consumer may already be breathing much-needed life into casual and fine dining restaurant sales. Full-service restaurants sales in particular are on the upswing, which bodes well for the dinner daypart, according to Dinner Trends in the U.S. Foodservice Market” by market research publisher Packaged Facts. 

“For the restaurant industry to rebound, we believe increased discretionary income is the key. Without it, there will simply be no rebound. The bottom line is that consumers with more money and more stable finances have the potential to spend and our data shows that consumers are making headway in cleaning up their balance sheets,” says David Morris, Packaged Facts analyst and Mosaic Research Consulting, LLC associate. “But for now at-home breakfast and dinner trending remains significant.”

Like family restaurants, casual and fine dining restaurants rely more on the dinner hour: 55% of casual restaurant users got a meal at a casual restaurant for dinner, a 175% increase over lunch usage. Fine dining restaurants are often wholly reliant on the dinner daypart, reflecting in dinner usage that is almost eight times that of lunch usage.

While casual and fine dining establishments linger on the cusp of recovery, Packaged Facts reveals that fast food and quick-service restaurants are more pressured, being shackled by consumer expectations of lower pricing and by the fact that “trading up” among recently invigorated spenders will hurt traffic in much the same manner that “trading down” benefitted the segment in 2008 and into 2009. The dinner daypart is important to the fast food/quick-service restaurant segment, with 42% of respondents to Packaged Facts’ June 2010 proprietary survey revealing that they had gone to a fast food/QSR in the past month. However, lunch and breakfast also draw strong usage, with lunch trumping dinner as the most used daypart.

The report concludes that for the average American family, eating dinner at home instead of at a restaurant may bring the greatest economic benefit. Thus the trend toward eating dinner at home is most pronounced among consumers age 18-24, students, homemakers, females, and consumers in households with an income less than $50,000. Consumers say that a dinner meal at a family restaurant costs about 29% more than lunch at a family restaurant and 21% more than breakfast at a family restaurant. While fast food has lower prices points across all dayparts than family and casual restaurants, consumers report an even higher dinner cost burden: 45% more than a fast food breakfast meal and 26% more than a fast food lunch meal.

“Dinner Trends in the U.S. Foodservice Market” not only helps foodservice industry participants address challenges unique to the dinner daypart but also helps participants contour their strategies to meet consumers’ evolving needs. By providing insight on the dinnergoer’s decision-making process, this report provides direction on how and why the consumer decides on a specific restaurant from which to obtain dinner, and how and why that consumer decides what to order from the menu. Selection factors are analyzed according to the following categories: convenience; dinner menu items; meal cost thresholds; dine-in partner; and takeout partner; menu positioning and advertising; health positioning; and bundled offers. For further information, please visit:

About Packaged Facts — Packaged Facts, a division of, publishes market intelligence on a wide range of consumer market topics, including consumer goods and retailing, foods and beverages, demographics, pet products and services, and financial products. Packaged Facts also offers a full range of custom research services. To learn more, visit: Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Jenn Tekin
(240) 747-3015
[email protected]

Click here to see all recent news from this company