Implications: These kinds of surveys and insights are important, as the restaurant category continues to evolve—and revolve—after the Great Recession. During the economic downturn of 2007-2009, it was widely reported that many people “traded down” in the restaurants they visited, or trimmed their visit frequency, or made do with more meals prepared at home.
With the fragile but growing recovery, Upscale restaurants are trying to regain the customers who abandoned them for more modest Family Casual fare. At the same time, Family Casual restaurants would like to retain those upscale customers, and regain the share they lost to Fast Food places. Meanwhile, Fast Food restaurants want to regain the customers they lost to at-home dining, while retaining the Family Casual customers who came their way during the recession. And finally, convenience stores and grocers would like to hold-on to the customers they gained as some people simply began dining out-of-home less.
The fierce competitive challenges facing restaurants during the Great Recession have not ended with the emerging economic recovery. Those challenges have simply changed.