May 6, 2022
With rising food costs continuing to impact the restaurant industry, 74% of American diners say they are likely to dine at restaurants less frequently if menu prices go up according to a new survey report. Most agree restaurants will manage increasing food costs by cutting portion sizes while charging customers the same price (74%) or switching to cheaper, lower quality ingredients without notifying customers (66%).
However, many would prefer operators to be more straightforward: 56% of restaurant goers surveyed agree they would be more willing to pay a little more if restaurants clearly explain why prices are rising.
MarketMan, a back-of-house restaurant management software company, commissioned a nationwide survey of 1,500 US consumers about their attitudes to rising restaurant prices. The results are published in a new report: How Americans Will Dine at Restaurants Amid Rising Inflation and Cost Pressure.
Among the other findings from the poll, 61% of consumers agree they are more likely to accept higher prices from small, local independent or family-run eateries than major chain restaurants. And three-quarters (75%) say rising prices will mean they are likely to stick with restaurants they are familiar with rather than risk trying somewhere new.
Changes In Dine-In Behavior
Marketman's survey identified a number of ways rising menu prices will affect people's dine-in behavior, potentially forcing restaurant operators to review menu items and adjust inventory management. For example, nearly three-quarters of survey participants who go to restaurants say that if prices go up, they'll either skip dessert (74%) or appetizers (72%) and order fewer drinks (71%).
72% also say they will scour the menu for cheaper dishes and 64% will order dishes they can share to reduce the overall bill. People will try to maximize what they get for free, with two-thirds (66%) asking for more of complimentary items, such as bread or drink refills. And at the end of the meal, more than 8 in 10 (82%) will ask for a to-go box to take away any leftovers.
Poll findings: How Americans will react to rising restaurant prices
• 74% are likely (incl. 41% very likely) to dine at restaurants less often
• 69% are likely (incl. 36% very likely) to order delivery meals less often
• 75% are likely (incl. 34% very likely) to mainly stick with restaurants that they know and like rather than risk trying new restaurants that they might not like
• 74% are likely (incl. 41% very likely) to skip dessert to save money
• 72% are likely (incl. 37% very likely) to skip appetizers/starters to save money
• 67% are likely (incl. 31% very likely) to order less food to save money
• 71% are likely (incl. 37% very likely) to order fewer drinks to save money
• 64% are likely (incl. 29% very likely) to order dishes to share to reduce the overall bill.
• 66% are likely (incl. 31% very likely) to ask for more of any complimentary items, such as bread or drink refills
• 82% are likely (incl. 47% very likely) to ask for a to-go box to take away any leftovers
Matt Levin, VP of Marketing at MarketMan, commented: "After surviving lockdowns, the hard-pressed restaurant sector must now cope with the impact of rising costs. While there will inevitably be a downturn in demand as menu prices rise, there are a variety of positive takeaways from the research. Local operators are likely to get more sympathy than larger chains, while diners will stick with restaurants they are familiar with, placing a premium on keeping regular customers happy. Most importantly, restauranteurs can succeed by being transparent about their rising costs, consistently measuring and managing portion sizes, and reducing waste."
Pilfering Could Be On The Rise
If things weren't tough enough for the industry, there are also signs that customers will be more open to pilfering items from restaurants or bending the rules to get more from their visit. One out of five surveyed (20%) strongly agree they are more likely to think it's acceptable to take things away from expensive restaurants - such as table decorations, glasses, cutlery, candleholders or fancy soap from the washrooms. And 39% of restaurant goers say they're likely to bring Tupperware or other containers to fill up and take away food from all-you-can-eat buffets.
For comprehensive insights from the survey, download the full report from the MarketMan website: https://www.marketman.com/restaurant-industry-report/