April restaurant traffic drops 4% as inflation puts a dent in recovery

Households with incomes less than $50K saw their restaurant visits decline by 11%

Food inflation is putting a dent in consumer visits to restaurants, with April posting a 4% decline in traffic compared to one year ago. Inflation stands at 9% compared to April of 2019. The data come from Chicago-based research firm NPD.

Not only was April down from last year (-4%), but it showed a decline compared to April 2019 (-11%). In addition there was a 1% increase in consumer spending at restaurants compared to one year ago. However, that number reflects inflation rather than increased transactions, notes NPD.

Notably, online and physical traffic to QSRs (quick-service restaurants) decreased by 4% in April, and down 6% from the April 2019 pre-pandemic baseline. Traffic to FSRs (full-service restaurants), posted the sharpest declines during the pandemic, understandably. This April, FSRs were down 3% compared to last year and 31% below April 2019, reports NPD.

Some additional takeaways from NPD’s reporting:

  • Rising restaurant prices have had the most impact on lower-income households and households with kids.
  • For consumers in households with annual incomes under $50K, their restaurant visits declined by 11% in April 2022 compared to last year’s April.
  • Traffic from households with kids under age 6 was down 8% and decreased by 9% for households with kids ages 6 to 12 in April compared to the same month one year ago.
  • Visits from groups with kids, from the same home or not, were down 14% from a year ago, while traffic from adult-only groups was up 1% this April compared to last April.

“Rising prices put pressures on consumers that contribute to the restaurant industry slowdown. For many consumers, it’s more affordable to eat at home,” says David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor and author of “Eating Patterns in America.’ “This is when operators need to demonstrate their value to consumers struggling with inflation and be solutions-oriented to help consumers meet needs across life stages.”

About the publisher of this restaurant news site.

Leave a Reply