After three long years of watching family visits to restaurants drop, researchers are noticing a new trend. More parents are taking their children out to eat again. New research from NPD points to a 1% increase for the quarter that ended in August 2010 when compared with the previous year.
At the start of the recession, back in 2007, the number of adult-only parties began exceeding the number of parties with kids at restaurants. That trend endured throughout the recession. But this summer, the 1% rise in family parties at restaurants became noticeable. NPD research say that families looking for a place to grab a meal or snack comprise a $70 billion market so competition will be heating up as operators look to increase their share of this market.
Overall, about 1/3rd of restaurant visits involve kids. Here’s how family dining experiences typically break out:
- Quick serve 81%
- Family dining 9%
- Fast casual 10%
Bonnie Riggs, restaurant-industry analyst for NPD speculates that ‘recession-weary’ parents “need to get out of the house a bit.” And dining out is a “relatively inexpensive treat compared to taking the family to a sporting event or the theater or to the movies.”
Restaurants can improve their chances of increasing family visits by promoting ‘kids-eat-free’ programs. As the busy holiday season continues, restaurants may indeed be advertising specials, though they’ll have to also watch out for new laws regarding toys being handed out with meals and nutritional requirements.[Source: Ruggless, Ron. Families return to restaurants. NRN.com. 10 Nov. 2010. Web. 23 Nov. 2010]