SAN CLEMENTE, CALIF. — Despite criticism of fast-food by consumer advocacy groups and news stories warning about an obesity epidemic, QSR usage is up significantly, according to a national study of 2,400 QSR users interviewed in 2005. In fact, frequency among all QSR users in 2005 was up to 17.2 purchases per month and frequency among heavy users was up to 28.7 purchases per month.

The study also found that 93 percent of respondents are QSR users, and nearly half of those are heavy users, indicating that a sizable portion of the U.S. population eats fast-food nearly every day.  This data is garnered from Sandelman & Associates' Quick-Service Restaurants National Annual Report – 2005.

According to the report, fast-food chains have been trying to meet consumers' changing needs by offering relatively healthful and premium options. As a result, usage among specific demographic groups increased dramatically, changing the profile of a typical fast-food user. Notably, females visited fast-food restaurants more frequently in 2005, logging 16.2 monthly occasions, the highest level in the past five years. Nonetheless, females still trail males, who account for 18.1 occasions per month. Interestingly, frequency was equal for 18-to-24-year-old males and females (20.1 occasions per month).

The study showed frequency among users with annual household incomes under $50,000 increased slightly last year, but the biggest increases were among those with incomes over $50,000 and especially for those with annual household incomes of over $75,000.

In addition, the average spending at QSR restaurants has increased steadily over the past five years with average spending per person up to $5.13. Spending levels may be affected by price increases, promotion of premium items and relatively pricey healthful options, the report said.

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