Nearly three-in-ten Americans (27 percent) said they expect to be spending less on eating out this year.
Between concerns about the health of the economy as well as their personal health, Americans have less of an appetite for eating out, according to consumer spending trends tracked in a new survey by AlixPartners, a consulting firm.
Nearly three-in-ten respondents (27 percent) said they expect to be spending less on eating out this year. The average expenditure per meal is expected to drop from $14.99 over the last 12 months to $14.32 over the next 12 months, a 4.5-percent decline that is largely driven by meal deals.
The National Restaurant Association has a more palatable projection; a 3.6 percent increase in restaurant industry sales.
Cutting back on dining out is indication of the unappetizing state of the economy. Nearly two-thirds of survey respondents (63 percent) said they feel that the economy is currently bad, while 40 percent said it has gotten worse in the past 12 months. More promising, there was less of a gap in respondents who believe their personal financial situation will improve or get worse in the coming year (20 percent vs. 28 percent).
Nearly six-in-ten respondents (59 percent) said they will eat out less because of finances, compared with 54 percent who responded similarly to a first quarter and 51 percent last year.
But it’s not so much fiscal concerns as health, according to consumer spending trends revealed in the AlixPartners survey. Six-in-ten respondents said they are dining out less often because they want to eat healthier, up from 50 percent in the first quarter.
Fast food chains such as McDonald's have been struggling to expand their offerings to attract health conscious consumers who are increasingly opting for so-called fast-casual restaurants such as Chipotle. According to the National Restaurant Association, 55 percent of fast-casual restaurants project a rise in sales from last year vs. 29 percent of fast food establishments.
Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of the economy. In addition to dining out, what else do consumers plan to curb their spending in the coming year? Twenty-one percent said they would be spending less on clothing. Twenty percent said they would be cutting back on entertainment as well as sports and recreation equipment and activities.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.