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Key points included

  • Restaurant sales are growing, but FSRs are struggling
  • Americans want to cook more often in 2020
  • Volatile economic conditions pose a serious risk

Covered in this report

The purpose of this report is to analyze consumers’ attitudes, behaviors and perceptions surrounding their current dining out behavior and anticipated behavior in 2019. The report will also examine how dining out varies across demographics. For the purposes of this report, Mintel has used the following restaurant definitions:


  • Quick service restaurants
  • Fast casual restaurants
  • Full service restaurants

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Hannah Spencer, a leading analyst in the Foodservice sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Restaurant sales are predicted to maintain steady growth in coming years but are vulnerable to volatile economic conditions, triggering a decrease in dining out spending. Americans’ interest in casual and off-premise dining is largely fueling industry growth, leading to a rise in new delivery formats including ghost kitchens along with the faster growth of the LSR segment compared to the FSR segment. In 2020, operators should focus on adding menu options that fit diners’ unique lifestyle needs including plant-based, diet-specific and natural ingredients as well as more personalized and convenient ordering options Hannah Spencer
Foodservice Analyst

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What's included

What's included

Table of contents

Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

        • Top takeaways
          • The issues
            • Restaurant sales are growing, but FSRs are struggling
              • Figure 1: Total US sales and forecast of restaurants and eating places* market, at current prices, 2014-24
            • Americans want to cook more often in 2020
              • Figure 2: Planned dining out behavior for 2020, October 2019
            • Volatile economic conditions pose a serious risk
              • Figure 3: Restaurant behaviors, October 2019
            • The opportunities
              • Invest in food quality in 2020
                • Figure 4: Areas of concentration for restaurants, October 2019
              • Younger diners willing to pay for quality
                • Figure 5: Restaurant attitudes, by generation, October 2019
              • The majority of consumers prefer casual dining experiences
                • Figure 6: Restaurant attitudes, October 2019
            • The Market – What You Need to Know

              • Restaurant sales continue to grow, but FSRs are growing at a slower rate
                • At-home cooking is restaurants’ biggest competition
                  • Gen Z are increasingly important diners
                  • Market Size and Forecast

                    • Foodservice industry maintains moderate growth
                      • Figure 7: Total US sales and forecast of restaurants and eating places* market, at current prices, 2014-24
                      • Figure 8: Total US sales and forecast of restaurants and eating places* market, at current prices, 2014-24
                  • Market Breakdown

                    • LSR segment growth outpaces FSRs
                      • Figure 9: Total US revenues and forecast of restaurants and eating places*, by segment share, at current prices, 2017 and 2019
                      • Figure 10: Total US revenues and forecast of restaurants and eating places*, by segment, at current prices, 2017 and 2019
                    • Fast casual sales propel LSR segment growth
                      • Figure 11: Total US revenues and fan chart forecast of limited service eating places*, at current prices, 2014-24
                      • Figure 12: Total US revenues and forecast of limited service eating places*, at current prices, 2014-24
                      • Figure 13: Top 10 fast casual restaurant chain percentage change in sales over prior year, 2018
                    • Casual and family dining chain sales contribute to slower FSR segment growth
                      • Figure 14: Total US revenues and fan chart forecast of full service restaurants, at current prices, 2014-24
                      • Figure 15: Total US revenues and forecast of full service restaurants, at current prices, 2014-24
                      • Figure 16: Top 10 casual dining restaurant chain percentage change in sales over prior year, 2018
                      • Figure 17: Top 10 family dining restaurant chain percentage change in sales over prior year, 2018
                  • Market Perspective

                    • Home-cooked meals perceived as healthier than dining out
                      • Figure 18: Attitudes toward healthy dining, December 2018
                    • Retailers invest in prepared food delivery
                      • Figure 19: Prepared food purchase frequency – NET prepared food user groups and any purchase, October 2018-2019
                  • Market Factors

                    • Economic instability is a threat for operators
                      • Figure 20: Consumer Sentiment Index, January 2007-October 2019
                    • Generation Z comes of age
                      • Figure 21: Population, by generation, 2014-24
                    • Younger Americans are increasingly diverse
                      • Figure 22: Distribution of population, by generation and Hispanic origin, 2019
                  • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                    • Diet-specific menus become table stakes
                      • Operators struggle to bring diners into restaurants
                        • Connecting with canna-fans
                        • What’s Working

                          • Operators personalize menus to meet dieters’ needs
                            • Figure 23: Dietary preferences, February 2019
                            • Figure 24: Qdoba Lifestyle bowls
                            • Fast food operators go beyond the traditional beef burger
                              • Figure 25: Increase in menu item incidence for meat substitutes as an ingredient on QSR menus, Q1 2015-Q3 2019
                              • Figure 26: Increase in menu item incidence for meat substitutes as an ingredient across restaurant segments, Q3 2015-Q3 2019
                          • What’s Struggling

                            • On-premise dining is on the decline
                            • What to Watch

                              • Ghost kitchens offer even more delivery options
                                • Cater to canna-curious consumers or risk losing them
                                  • Figure 27: Cannabis statements, July 2019
                              • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                • More Americans visit LSRs and are doing so more often
                                  • Gen Zers are increasingly important diners
                                    • Prioritize natural and high-quality ingredients
                                    • Restaurant Visitation

                                      • Nearly all Americans have dined out in the past three months
                                        • Figure 28: Restaurant visitation in the past three months, October 2019
                                      • LSR visitation is more habitual
                                        • Figure 29: Restaurant visitation frequency, October 2019
                                      • More than half of Millennials visit coffee/tea shops at least weekly
                                        • Figure 30: Restaurant visitation frequency, Net – Once a week or more, by generation, October 2019
                                      • Hispanic consumers are top restaurant-goers across segments
                                        • Figure 31: Restaurant visitation frequency, Net – Once a week or more, by race and Hispanic origin, October 2019
                                        • Figure 32: QSR concept interest, by race and Hispanic origin, February 2019
                                    • Planned Dining Out Behavior for 2020

                                      • Two in five consumers plan to cook at home more in 2020
                                        • Figure 33: Planned dining out behavior for 2020, October 2019
                                      • Parents want to cook more often
                                        • Figure 34: Planned dining out behavior for 2020, October 2019
                                      • Young generations are digitally savvy diners
                                        • Figure 35: Planned dining out behavior for 2020, October 2019
                                        • Figure 36: Delivery and pickup motivators– Any agree, by generation, September 2019
                                    • Restaurant Behaviors

                                      • Dining out visitation is vulnerable to changing economic conditions
                                        • Figure 37: Restaurant behaviors, October 2019
                                      • Gen Z spending more on dining out, but are also most likely to cut back on dining to save
                                        • Figure 38: Restaurant behaviors, by generation, October 2019
                                      • A variety of delivery options can meet parents’ need for convenience
                                        • Figure 39: Restaurant behaviors, by parental status and gender, October 2019
                                    • Restaurant Attitudes

                                      • Half of consumers prefer more casual dining experiences
                                        • Figure 40: Restaurant attitudes, October 2019
                                      • Frequent FSR customers are willing to spend more for plant-based options
                                        • Figure 41: Restaurant attitudes, by restaurant visitation frequency segmentation, October 2019
                                      • Younger consumers willing to pay for quality, but aren’t satisfied with current options
                                        • Figure 42: Restaurant attitudes, by generation, October 2019
                                    • Menu Item Interest

                                      • Diners prioritize quality ingredients
                                        • Figure 43: Menu item interest, October 2019
                                      • Frequent FSR customers are more interested in meatless options
                                        • Figure 44: Menu item interest, by restaurant visitation frequency segmentation, October 2019
                                      • CBD-infused menu items appeal to younger consumers
                                        • Figure 45: Menu item interest, by generation, October 2019
                                      • Gen Zers expect more transparency
                                        • Figure 46: Menu item interest, by generation October 2019
                                    • Plant-Based Menu Item Motivators

                                      • Health is the primary driver for repeat plant-based purchases
                                        • Figure 47: Plant-based menu item motivators, October 2019
                                    • Areas of Concentration for Restaurants

                                      • Consumers want operators to concentrate on food quality in 2020
                                        • Figure 48: Areas of concentration for restaurants, October 2019
                                      • Asian and Hispanic consumers are most interested in more authentic international cuisines
                                        • Figure 49: Areas of concentration for restaurants, by race and Hispanic origin, October 2019
                                    • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                      • Data sources
                                        • Sales data
                                          • Fan chart forecast
                                            • Consumer survey data
                                              • Consumer qualitative research
                                                • Mintel Menu Insights
                                                  • Abbreviations and terms
                                                    • Abbreviations
                                                    • Appendix – The Market

                                                        • Figure 50: Total US sales and forecast of restaurants and eating places* market, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2014-24
                                                        • Figure 51: Total US sales and forecast of limited service eating places*, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2014-24
                                                        • Figure 52: Total US sales and forecast of full service restaurants, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2014-24
                                                        • Figure 53: Distribution of generations by race and Hispanic origin, 2019

                                                    This market report provides in-depth analysis and insight supported by a range of data. At the same time, introductory and top-level content is provided to give you an overview of the issues covered.

                                                    • Market

                                                      Mintel provides a range of market information, frequently through the category level, including market size and forecasting, complete with market drivers that illustrate the forces that shape a category or market.

                                                    • Consumer

                                                      Mintel's proprietary consumer research provides our analysts with the attitudinal and behavioral data used to provide valuable insight to topical issues.

                                                    • Brand/Company

                                                      Mintel provides overviews of the top brands and manufacturers, and uses consumer research to explore attitudes and reactions to brands, as well as insight into what will resonate with consumers.

                                                    • Data

                                                      Market reports provide appendices of data to support the research and insight produced. Our tables of data are easily manipulated and downloadable to support your research needs and covers factors from consumer attitudes to market forecasts.

                                                    Please Note: This is a sample report. All of the figures, graphs, and tables have been redacted.

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