SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — GE Capital Solutions, Franchise Finance, a financier to the restaurant franchise industry, has released its 17th annual Chain Restaurant Industry Review.
According to the report, baby boomers without children have increased food and beverage spending at twice the rate of total category growth and on a per capita basis since 2002. People aged 55-64 spend just under $1,300 a year at restaurants, highest among household age groups.
"The food services industry, which saw sales top $500 billion in the United States for the first time in 2006, provides a fascinating look into not only where and what we're eating, but how we're living our lives," says Kimberly Savilonis, vice president of business intelligence for GE Capital Solutions, Franchise Finance.
For the first time, consumers with higher incomes ($75K+) spent more on fast food than at full service restaurants — $796 versus $790 in 2006.
Women also are choosing fast food more often — 16.2 times per month in 2006 compared to 14.3 in 2004. This trend is leading to more 'female-friendly' offerings like salads, yogurt and fruit cups.
In 2006, more than a quarter of Americans reported eating ethnic food at least once a week, with more than 4 in 10 American adults eating at a Chinese restaurant within a 30-day time frame.
The combined buying power of Asian, African and Hispanic Americans is projected to be $2.9 trillion in 2011, 352 percent higher than 1990.
"The industry also feeds the economy so the trends have important implications for both Main Street and Wall Street," says Darren Kowalske, president and chief executive of GE Capital Solutions, Franchise Finance. He also noted that the restaurant industry added 250,000 jobs each year for the last 10 years.
"The industry experienced record activity for mergers, acquisitions and IPOs in 2006," Kowalske said. "These trends combined with other factors like rising costs in commercial real estate and gasoline have a ripple effect that cascades across the economy."