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Survey: Consumers’ Financial Concerns Dampen Desires to Dine Out


The chain-restaurant industry in the year ahead faces a consumer base that is voicing increasing concerns about their finances, about dining out and how much they spend if they do.  Those are among the findings in a survey of more than 1,000 U.S. consumers, released by AlixPartners, a global consulting firm.

For instance, among those who expect to dine-out less often in the year ahead, consumers were given the option of pick as many reasons as applicable among 15 in total. The result? Those choosing a financial concern—as opposed to such things as restaurant service or predictable food—was up 8 percentage points net versus responses to the same question in an AlixPartners survey fielded a year ago.  In particular, in this year’s survey 49% said they plan to reallocate savings toward purchases other than restaurant meals, 30% said restaurant meals are too expensive, 30% said their current finances mean they need to cut back on spending, and 15% said they’re concerned about their future financial situation.

In addition, the survey finds that millennials may be impacted more than older generational cohorts by economic worries, as the percentage who plan to spend $10 to $30 per meal is down in this year’s survey (to 55%, from 57% in last year’s) while the percentage that plan to spend $10 or less per meal is up (to 42%, from 40%). The survey also finds 38% of consumers plan to use discounts, such as coupons and promotions, to reduce their restaurant spending in the year ahead, down from 46% in the survey of a year ago—a sign that discounts are perhaps losing their allure. And, in perhaps another sign of caution, the survey also finds that among those planning to reallocate their restaurant spending on other things, 35% said they’d reallocate toward retirement (of the eight options available), up two percentage points from last year’s survey—while 38% said travel, down three points from the year-ago survey.

59% of consumers, including 68% of millennials -- are in favor of raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, which is more than double the current federal minimum of $7.25 per hour.

“The restaurant consumer today is jittery, and for good reason,” said Adam Werner, global co-head of AlixPartners’ Restaurant, Hospitality and Leisure Practice and a managing director at the firm. “The economy … looks great in the rear-view mirror, but what lies ahead is uncertain, and our survey results reflect that consumers are very aware of that.”

The AlixPartners 2019 US Restaurant Outlook Survey polled 1,001 consumers ages 18 and older on February 14-19, 2019, across major regions and demographics in the United States.

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