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Budget-Conscious Consumers Cutting Back on Fast Food

DALLAS – Nearly half of fast food consumers have reduced their visits to quick service restaurants over the past three months, according to a study conducted by M/A/R/C Research.

Females fast-food eating habits have decreased more dramatically than males, with 56 percent eating less often, versus 41 percent of males, according to the study, obtained by CSNews. The online survey of 25,000 consumers found most (84 percent) of those eating at QSRs less often are eating at home more often to save money. Other reasons given by those eating at QSRs less often: they take their lunch to work or school to save money (35 percent) and price increases have made eating at QSRs less affordable (26 percent).

However, some consumers—9 percent of those polled—have actually increased their fast food visits during the same time frame. More than 40 percent reported the economy had no impact on their QSR visits.

Among the group eating at QSRs more often, the most common reason for the increase is QSRs being more convenient, allowing them to save gas, according to the study (45 percent of those eating fast food more often.) Others said they are more money conscious, it is cheaper than cooking at home, and they are trading down from casual and fine dining restaurants. Seventeen percent said their employment status has changed and they are cutting back on spending.

"Clearly the economy has impacted the behavior of QSR customers," said Gwen Amador, vice president at M/A/R/C Research. "All of this has a direct impact on the share QSR brands can capture."

When asked how many times they have visited a fast-food restaurant in the past month, considering all dining occasions, the majority of consumers (78 percent) visited 10 or fewer times. (Nineteen percent said one or two times; 34 percent said three to five times; 25 percent said six to 10 times.)

The highest percentage of past-month QSR consumers (88 percent) visited a burger QSR. Sixty-three percent purchased went to a chicken retailer. Just over half (51 percent) went to sandwich and Mexican food QSRs. Half went to pizza places and 18 percent said they visited a seafood QSR.

The M/A/R/C survey included the burger, chicken, Mexican, pizza, sandwich and seafood categories.
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