Customers Prioritize Dining Out At Lower-Priced Venues



QSRs and fast-casual venues are in for a prosperous 2024, at least according to a new “Restaurant Trends to Watch” report on both consumers and restaurant owners and operators from Popmenu.

Some of the biggest takeaways benefit mostly the QSR and fast-casual segments, both of which rely heavily on affordability, ease/speed and promotions.  When asked “What makes consumers more likely to choose a restaurant?” the #1 response was “restaurant has affordable menu options,” according to 56% of respondents, followed by “restaurant offers more digitally enabled experiences,” picked by 52% of respondents, and “restaurant regularly reaches out with special promotions and news” at #3 with 39%.



Also of note is that three in four consumers (75%) dine out at least once a week, and 26% plan to increase their restaurant spend in 2024. As restaurant sales increased in 2023, consumers began prioritizing dining experiences over other discretionary items as streaming services (Hulu, Netflix, Prime, etc.), picked by 36% of consumers, ride services (Uber, Lyft, etc.) with 33%, new clothes at 32% and even gym memberships at 27%.

As for the operator side, 42% plan to offer more rotating menus, based on ingredients costs, while 20% also plan to add cheaper options to their offerings. Thirty-one percent  of operators feel food costs are more under control compared to a year ago. However, 71% of operators say they will raise menu prices in 2024.

"Restaurant operators are entering 2024 with a positive, yet watchful, outlook as inflationary pressure somewhat subsides and consumers' appetite for dining out remains strong and steady," said Brendan Sweeney, CEO and co-founder of Popmenu, in a release. "Most feel optimistic about business prospects and more than a third plan to open a new location or expand an existing one in the next 12 months.”

For the report, Popmenu conducted a nationwide study of 461 U.S. restaurant owners and operators from Nov. 21 to Dec. 10, 2023. The study included single-location and multilocation restaurants of all types across regions. In addition, Popmenu conducted an anonymous, nationwide study of 1,000 U.S. consumers, ages 18 and older, from Nov. 6 to Nov. 7.


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