New York City Despite signs that the recession may be ending, restaurant customers say they plan to spend about 20% less per meal in 2010 than they did this year, according to a new study published Tuesday by Nation’s Restaurant News.
The study by business consultant AlixPartners queried 1,000 consumers, who said they plan to spend an average of $11.49 per meal next year. In a similar survey the company performed nine months ago, respondents reported spending an average of $13.25 per meal.
While spending is expected to decline, weekly restaurant visits are actually up. The study found that 63% of those polled had dined out at least weekly over the past 12 months, up from 52% in the March survey.
Meanwhile, monthly visits to fine-dining restaurants dropped 36%, the survey found.
“While food quality today remains top of mind for the consumer, the core driver for diners continues to be value, value, value,” said Andy Eversbusch, a managing director at AlixPartners. “That determines how often people eat out, and where they eat out.”
Eversbusch also noted that while industry relies heavily on discounting these days, it is unclear whether the strategy “will provide a sustained positive impact.”