The full-service segment – and casual dining in particular – has faced numerous challenges over the past several years, but cautious optimism is emerging as some turnaround efforts gain traction.
Technomic’s 2018 Future of FSR Consumer Trend Report finds that while the segment isn’t out of the woods, increased emphasis on value, off-premise sales, alcohol and memorable away-from-home experiences is helping the category move in the right direction.
“Following a year in which the total unit count for Top 500 casual-dining chains declined 1.5%, some brands are starting to see positive signs at the unit level,” explains Charles Winship, senior research analyst at Technomic.
“As the segment’s turnaround continues, efforts will turn to cultivating sustainable, long-term growth strategies that avoid the issues that led to casual dining’s downturn to begin with, such as weak value propositions, an oversupply of restaurants and failing to evolve with consumers’ dining habits.”
The report found that 53% of consumers say they visit traditional casual-dining restaurants at least once a month, with 38% of family-style consumers saying they’re more likely to visit a chain than an independent.
51% of upscale casual-dining restaurant consumers say they visit these restaurants to celebrate special occasions.
The comprehensive 2018 Future of FSR Consumer Trend Report compiles findings from more than 1,600 consumer responses, as well as menu and industry data from the Ignite database.