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Gen Y cutting back on dining out, research finds

Young adults, some of the restaurant industry's heaviest users, are cutting back significantly on dining out amid high unemployment, according to new research from The NPD Group.

In the two-year period between May 2008 and May 2010, annual per-capita meal and snack occasions dropped from 242 to 216 for those ages 18 to 24. Those between the ages of 25 to 34 decreased their dining out occasions from 257 to 238 during the same period, according to NPD’s CREST research.

Darren Seifer, food and beverage industry analyst for The NPD Group, noted that Gen Y is having more trouble finding work than the rest of the country, with an unemployment rate of 19.5 percent for adults under 30 in the second quarter, compared with 9.5 percent for the total workforce.

“Cost concern is particularly important to this age group since they have been among the hardest hit by the recession,” he said.

The Chicago-based market research firm noted that Gen Y consumers, also known as Millennials, are seeking convenient, low-cost dining options, such as portable food and frozen entrées.

Restaurants, including California Pizza Kitchen and P.F. Chang's, may be taking that to heart as they reach out to consumers more in grocery stores with branded frozen meals.

Besides watching their budget, “young adults are also looking for healthier and lighter menu items, convenient locations, and good customer service,” said Kim McLynn, a NPD spokeswoman. “These ‘needs states’ of young adults are evidenced in the types of restaurants they have cut back on visiting, such as QSR hamburger and QSR pizza.”

Contact Pamela Parseghian at [email protected].


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