This summer is shaping up to be an interesting one for the restaurant industry. While eateries are embracing the heat, consumers might be looking to stay in the kitchen.
On one hand, there’s a wave of optimism among restaurant operators expecting a considerable boost in sales as traffic heats up with the weather.
But there’s a flip side to the sunny forecast: many consumers are weighing their dining decisions differently due to inflation. In fact, 1 in 3 diners plan to reduce restaurant visits, while half intend to stick to their current spending habits.
Dining Deja Vu?
The summer months tend to be a boon for restaurants. But warmer weather did not translate to hotter sales last year, as higher gas prices and grocery bills seemed to temper the usual enthusiasm of diners during May, June, and July.
Inflation may be cooling this year, but prices are still rising. Many consumers remain cautious about discretionary spending and are trying to save money on food. Add in general economic uncertainty across the board and you’ve got a recipe for a bitter brew for the restaurateurs.
While eateries remain hopeful, consumer sentiment may well put their optimism to the test.
Due to the summer boom, there’s usually less need for restaurants to offer discounts and deals to draw crowds. But this year, that might change.
As restaurant-goers express dissatisfaction with increasing menu prices, eateries are responding. For example, Noodles & Company (NDLS) reported plans to shift toward more deals as customers resist price hikes. Also, many restaurants are seeing improving profit margins, making value meals and special deals more viable ways to appeal to cost-conscious customers.
So it may be a summer of scrumptious savings after all. It seems that the way to a diner’s heart is not only through their stomach, but their wallet.
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