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Restaurant Visits Among Gen Z Fall Below Previous Generations

According to The NPD Group, price is the most important attribute among consumers 18 to 24 years old when choosing a restaurant.
Gen Z couple eating at a restaurant

CHICAGO — A new report found that Gen Z, whose outside recreation like restaurant visits was thwarted by the COVID-19 pandemic, made 218 annual restaurant visits per person in the 12 months through February 2022. That number is 66 visits less than their Gen X counterparts. 

According to The NPD Group's latest survey report, "Winning Gen Z Consumers," an increase in spending in categories like apparel and overall inflationary pressures have heightened Gen Z's price sensitivity, in which half of the consumer group revealed that higher menu prices have impacted their restaurant visits.

"Restaurant operators and their manufacturer partners must quickly adapt to how Gen Z consumers think and feel," said David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor and author of Eating Patterns in America. "An understanding of which menu items to emphasize, the food attributes they seek, menu innovations that appeal to them, and their preferred advertising platforms will help you win the favor of this valuable generation."

However, NPD also stressed that price is the most important attribute among consumers 18 to 24 years old when choosing a restaurant. Additionally, student loan debt hasn't factored into Gen Z spending but will once the forbearance of government-backed student loans lifts. 

NPD also reported that Gen Z is historically entering the heaviest restaurant usage stage, but history may not repeat itself with this generation.

Twenty years ago, when Gen Xers were young adults, they averaged 284 visits per person a year. Millennials, as young adults, were impacted by the Great Recession, causing a cutback in 40 restaurant visits per person a year vs. their older Gen X counterparts.

In retrospect, the pandemic isn't the only factor keeping Gen Zs from restaurants; they have more interests vying for their dollars than previous generations.

In addition to apparel, footwear, beauty, and technology are among the other categories in which young adult Gen Z consumers spend their money. Apparel brands have successfully tapped into Gen Z values, like diversity and empowerment, and, as a result, have gained a larger share of their spending, according to NPD.

Whether in-store or online, Gen Zers are enticed by good deals, according to the 2022 Path to Purchase Institute’s (P2PI) latest research study, "Gen Shopping Habits." In the study 91 percent of respondents identified promotions and sales as impactful, while customer reviews or testimonials, personalized offers, and informative content specific to products were all ranked at 88 percent effective.

Gen Zers are also engaged shoppers. The cohort is drawn to in-store options that are affordable and offer a one-stop shopping experience, referencing Walmart  and Target as its favorite destinations for in-store shopping for everyday items.

Based in Chicago, The NPD Group offers data, industry expertise, and prescriptive analytics to help clients grow their businesses in today's retail landscape and prepare for the future.

To learn more about NPD Group, "Winning Gen Z Consumers" report, click here.

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