The aging of America isn’t simply straining the Social Security system. It’s also likely to curtail restaurant visits, according to The NPD Group.
A recent NPD report, “A Look into the Future of Foodservice,” projects that, while the U.S. population should grow 1.1 percent a year over the next decade, annual visits to restaurants will grow by only 8 percent total during that period.
Blame the baby boomers.
“The aging effect on the restaurant industry will be slightly negative because of aging Baby Boomers,” says Bonnie Riggs, NPD’s restaurant industry analyst and author of the report. “A greater share of visits will source to those 50 years and older in 2019, but as consumers age they become less frequent restaurant users. This means the restaurant industry will have heavier dependence on lighter buyers.”
Clearly other factors are eroding restaurant traffic. The economy is a big one. And Riggs says Americans are eating dinner at home more, while fewer women are entering the workforce—leaving them less discretionary income and more time to cook.
Riggs also observes that this is not necessarily all bad. While they can’t influence the rate of population growth or aging, operators can look for ways to capture more business based on positive trends—breakfast and snacking, for instance, are on the rise.