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A new report released by market research firm NPD Group predicts that restaurant visits will grow less than 1 percent per year throughout the next decade.

This prediction is slower than the 1.1 percent per year growth estimated in the U.S. population.

The report, titled "A Look into the Future of Foodservice," forecasts that annual visits to restaurants will increase by 8 percent in the next 10 years. The aging population will not be a boon for the industry.

"The aging effect on the restaurant industry will be slightly negative because of aging Baby Boomers," said Bonnie Riggs, NPD’s restaurant industry analyst and author 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."

Factors studied include new menu items, promotions, and restaurant openings and closings. 

"In addition to being hit hard by the recession, Americans are eating more suppers at home, and fewer women entering the workforce have negatively impacted restaurant traffic," added Riggs. "There isn’t much that can be done about the aging of the population and population growth. The current trend momentum may not appear favorable for the industry moving forward, but it’s the area where the industry has the greatest opportunity to change the direction of the forecast."
 
In June, NPD Group predicted two ways to tap into this opportunity were with coffee and breakfast sandwiches.

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