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Consumers shift restaurant spending

After years of trading down to limited-service restaurants as a result of the recession, consumers appear to be ramping up their spending on casual dining, according to a new market research report.

For its Restaurant Industry Tracking Survey, Dectiva asked diners where they were spending their money across the restaurant landscape, from limited service — which includes quick-service and fast-casual players — to casual and fine dining. The Santa Monica, Calif.-based market research firm surveys about 2,500 consumers each quarter for the report.

In the first quarter this year, consumers said the percentage of their dining-out dollars spent at limited-service restaurants dipped significantly for the first time in a year, while the percentage of their restaurant spend at casual dining restaurants climbed.


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Respondents devoted 37.7 percent of their restaurant spending to limited-service restaurants during the quarter, a decline from the range of 41 percent to 42.1 percent during the previous year. Meanwhile, consumers said they spent about 41.1 percent of their dining-out dollars on casual dining restaurants, up from the range of 38 percent to 39.4 percent seen in 2011.

Consumers who ate out during the quarter spent more across the board compared with the same period a year ago, noted Dan Meichenbaum, Dectiva’s director of research. But the increase was greater among casual dining and fine dining restaurants.

Consumers spent an average of $37.22 per month during the first quarter of 2011 at limited-service restaurants, for example. That average rose to $41.47 per month during the first quarter of 2012, an 11.4-percent increase.

Average spend per month among casual dining restaurants rose from $60.65 a year ago to $71.72 in the first quarter 2012 for an increase of 18 percent.

In fine dining, the average monthly spend grew 19 percent in the first quarter of 2012 compared with a year ago, rising from $90.04 to $107.61.

Market research data included is this article is sourced from Dectiva's Restaurant Industry Tracking Survey, a quarterly quantitative tracking survey that measures and forecasts consumer visitation and spend at more than 30 publicly held restaurants.

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected].
Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout

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