Although total U.S. restaurant visits were up 1 percent in 2012, visits by the fastest growing demographic were down by 86 million, or 1 percent. According to The NPD Group, steep declines in visits within the Hispanic American population can be attributed in part to high unemployment rates, which averaged 10.3 percent in 2012, compared to the national average of 8.1 percent.
The drop was even steeper among less bicultural U.S. Hispanics, who made 2 percent less visits last year than in 2011, according to NPD's Crest Hispanic, which tracks U.S. Hispanics use of restaurants daily.
However, in contrast to U.S. Hispanics' visit declines, their average check rose by 4 percent from a year ago. The check increase was due partially to their shift away from value menus, most likely due to the change in offerings or price increases. Broken down by segment:
- Quick-service restaurants (QSR) held 84 percent share of U.S. Hispanic's restaurant visits in 2012, a 1 percent increase in share from the prior year. This compares to the 78 percent share of QSR restaurant visits claimed by non-Hispanic traffic.
- U.S. Hispanics' use of full-service restaurants is historically below average, and their lagging visits to this segment were even more pronounced in 2012.
- Thirty-four percent of U.S. Hispanic restaurant visitors are between the ages of 18 and 34, reports Crest Hispanic. This age group, although still the heaviest restaurant users among Hispanics, cut back on their use of restaurants in 2012 more than any other U.S. Hispanic age group.
"U.S. Hispanics are an increasingly important customer base for the foodservice industry — they made some 9.6 billion visits in 2012 and spent $63 billion" said Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant industry analyst. "Understanding how, why, and when U.S. Hispanics use restaurants and other foodservice outlets can help operators and supplier partners focus on efforts to entice this group to visit."
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