Chart Of The Week: Why Do People Bypass Restaurants?

Why does NPD keep asking these stupid questions? Maybe it’s better for us, because questions this broad elicit anthropologically interesting responses. Obviously, these replies were supplied by the marks, because why would a polling company give the option of both “high price of gasoline” and “not driving as much?”

The “eating at home more” is a tautological answer, unless one allows for options outside of the restaurant vs. home binary. Eating at other peoples’ houses? Hmm. Do megachurches serve dinner? No, all of those things are preposterous. But it does call into question what “going less often to all restaurants” means, in terms of how the polling was done. Were people asked, as they passed by - but did not enter - a particular location, why they made that decision? No, that seems improbable, so it’s also an uninteresting answer.

Except that the difference in response for that answer between the QSR people and the casual people seems fairly large. The discrepancy between the audiences is especially significant for the questions about the healthiness of the food, and telling for the QSR industry. McD and BK may be making strides in introducing healthier menu options, but they need to do more, and fast.

Meanwhile, the dampening economy is certainly taking a bite out of casual diners’ wallets. We mentioned the gasoline issue already, which affects the casual people more than the QSR people (although not by much), and that gap widens with responses more directly about money (“too expensive” and “changes in financial situation”).

Basically, people seem to want their food cheap, healthy, served quickly, and available within walking distance - perfectly reasonable demands. It’s hard to get all four at once, but we are not losing hope that some bright entrepreneur with good taste buds and a sense of social justice will make it happen.

[Chart: Nation’s Restaurant News]

Chart Of The Week: Why Do People Bypass Restaurants?