Restaurants Show Best Traffic Increase in Years

Over the winter of 2011 and spring of 2012, restaurants have seen an increase in traffic that has been unmatched since 2008. Analysts have presented a few theories as to why this increase has occurred, but most restaurant owners are continuing to focus on their own plans for more growth rather than watching other’s performance.

While there has been a significant growth in sales overall, there are still important areas in which there has been no increase in sales – or even a decrease. Restaurants are continuously working to gain a piece of this increase, which is helping numbers look better across the board.

What’s Happening?

Oddly enough, the two segments of the restaurant industry that seem to have shown the most growth, fall on opposite ends of the spectrum. One segment is quick service, like fast-food or fast casual restaurants. These may have received more growth because those who want to eat out but don’t want to pay as much are opting for less costly options for their dining choices.

The other segment that has shown growth is fine dining establishments. The increase has also been seen especially in two particular meal times, breakfast and evening snacks, while lunch and dinner meal times have shown no change.

Unfortunately, it’s not all good news for every restaurant. Recent statistics have shown that while some restaurant types are flourishing, midscale family-dining chains have still been losing clientele. This can probably be attributed to the fact that many of the people that these restaurants cater to are still reeling from the economic downturn and doing their best to stay home for most meals.

Why Now?

One theory for the increase in restaurant traffic is that much of the country experienced a very mild winter. Customers are naturally more inclined to venture out of their homes, and therefore dine out more, when the weather is nice. A small portion of this increase could be attributed to consumers who depend on good weather to work, and would have possibly seen a favorable upswing in their personal finances. Again, this would only contribute a very small portion to the overall increase, but as the great fundraisers say, every little bit helps.

Other analysts believe that the increase in traffic is due to an increase in consumer confidence. Statistics show that the unemployment rate in America has been falling steadily since fall of 2011. This could contribute to a larger number of consumers feeling financially stable enough to eat out again. With recent trends showing that more and more customers are cooking and eating at home, this is a very good sign for the restaurant industry and for the economy in general.

The most surprising thing about this increase is that it has accompanied an overall increase in price at many popular restaurants. Even though some of these restaurants have shown up to a six percent increase across their whole menu, customers are still providing restaurants with the first significant financial improvement that they have seen in quite some time.

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