Seven in Ten Americans Cooking More Instead of Going Out to Save Money Women dining out even less frequently than men

NEW YORK, May 16, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- One of the ways people gauge when an economic recovery is occurring is when Americans start spending more on things like eating out in restaurants. People are dining out. Over three in five U.S. adults (63%) have dined at a fast food restaurant chain in the past month and about half have dined at a local casual dining establishment (53%) and a casual dining restaurant chain (50%). Fewer have dined at either a local fine dining establishment (18%) or a fine dining restaurant chain (9%) while 13% of Americans have not dined at any of these types of restaurants in the past month.

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These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,451 adults surveyed online between March 12 and 19, 2012 by Harris Interactive.

Changes in dining out behavior

While Americans are dining out, they are still cutting back in how often they do so. In looking at the past six months, about one-third say they are eating less frequently at fast food chains (36%), casual dining restaurant chains (34%), and local casual dining restaurants (34%). But one glimmer of economic hope is about one in ten Americans say they are eating at these three types of restaurants more frequently.

Interestingly, there is a gender difference as women are more likely than men to say they are dining out less frequently in these three types of restaurants over the past six months. For example, two in five women (41%) say they are dining less frequently at fast food restaurants compared to 31% of men.

Seven in ten Americans (71%) say they find themselves cooking more instead of going out in order to save more money, while over half (57%) say going out used to be a regular occurrence but it is now a luxury. On the flip side, three in five U.S. adults (60%) disagree with the notion that they will eat out as often but now usually at a lower priced restaurant. Only three in ten Americans (29%) say they will cut spending in other places in order to still be able to dine out.

Factors in Choosing a Restaurant

There are many different reasons for choosing a restaurant when deciding to go out to eat. For nine in ten Americans (90%) good prices are an important reason while for 84% the mood they are in (for either type of cuisine or type of food) is important. Other things that are important in choosing a restaurant are having a specific menu item people enjoy (81%), a convenient location (80%), broad variety of menu items (78%), special offers (59%), and healthy menu items that fit a dietary need (56%). Two things that three in five Americans say are not important when they choose a restaurant are choosing the same restaurant (59%) and a restaurant with a menu that usually has new items (61%)

So What?

"Consumer restaurant behavior continues to evolve as they manage their budgets in an ongoing tight economy.  At the beginning of the economic downturn we saw consumers saving money by changing their behavior in two ways: eating out less frequently and shifting their eating-out dollars away from Casual Dining towards Fast Food/Quick Service restaurants," according to Mary Bouchard, Vice President and Thought Leader at Harris Interactive.   "Now, with several years of experience with constrained budgets, they have shifted even further from the busy-lifestyle convenience of eating out on a regular basis to making time for cooking at home.  When they do eat out, not surprisingly, price is still a primary component of their decision making process."

"Interestingly, while consumers still are driven by a favorite type of food/favorite dish in restaurant selection, the industry overall has begun to see a positive shift towards healthy eating behavior," continues Ms. Bouchard.  "As our recent Harris Poll EquiTrend® also shows, restaurants that offer a broad range of healthy options, such as Subway which is the highest rated quick service restaurant brand, have shown increased revenues and many restaurants of all genres have increased their offering/sales of low calorie/low fat dishes."

TABLE 1
TYPES OF RESTAURANTS EATEN AT IN PAST MONTH
"Please review the following types of restaurants and select the types of restaurant(s) you have eaten out at in the past month for either lunch or dinner?"

Base: All adults


Total

$34,999 or less

$35,000-

$49,999

$50,000 -$74,999

$75,000 - $99,999

$100,000 or more

%

%

%

%

%

%

Fast Food Restaurant Chain (i.e. McDonald's, Burger King, Jack in the Box, etc.)

63

65

65

66

66

60

Local Casual Dining Restaurant

53

40

52

54

63

66

Casual Dining Restaurant Chain (i.e. Applebee's, Chili's, Olive Garden, etc.)

50

37

50

57

58

60

Local Fine Dining Establishment

18

12

13

13

19

35

Fine Dining Restaurant Chain (i.e. Ruth's Chris, Morton's Steak House, etc.)

9

7

11

5

8

18

None of these

13

17

11

9

10

8

Note: Multiple responses allowed.


TABLE 2
CHANGES IN DINING OUT OVER PAST SIX MONTHS
"Thinking of how often you have eaten at each of these types of restaurant chain in the past 6 months, would you say you have eaten at this type of restaurant…?"

Base: All adults


More Frequently (NET)

Much more

frequently

Somewhat more frequently

About

the

same

Less

Frequently

(NET)

Somewhat less frequently

Much

Less

frequently

Haven't eaten at this type of restaurant in past 6 months

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Fast Food Restaurant Chain

12

4

8

39

36

17

19

12

Local Casual Dining Restaurant

12

4

7

42

32

14

18

14

Casual Dining Restaurant Chain

9

3

6

40

34

15

19

17

Local Fine Dining Establishment

6

2

4

27

27

9

18

39

Fine Dining Restaurant Chain

5

2

2

24

26

8

18

46

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

TABLE 3
CHANGES IN DINING OUT OVER PAST SIX MONTHS – By Gender
"Thinking of how often you have eaten at each of these types of restaurant chain in the past 6 months, would you say you have eaten at this type of restaurant…?"
Those Saying Somewhat/Much Less Frequently

Base: All adults


Less

Frequently

Gender

Men

Women

%

%

%

Fast Food Restaurant Chain

36

31

41

Casual Dining Restaurant Chain

34

31

37

Local Casual Dining Restaurant

32

27

37

Local Fine Dining Establishment

27

26

27

Fine Dining Restaurant Chain

26

25

27

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

TABLE 4
FACTORS IN CHOOSING A RESTAURANT
"Please think about what drives you to choose a restaurant when you go out to eat. How important are each of the following when you choose to eat at a specific restaurant?"

Base: All adults


Important (NET)

Very Important

Important

Not Important

(NET)

Not that important

Not at all important

%

%

%

%

%

%

A restaurant which has good prices

90

44

46

10

7

3

It depends on the mood I am in for either a type of food (e.g. pasta, salad, sandwiches, burgers) or type of cuisine (e.g American, Chinese, Thai, etc.)

84

31

53

16

12

4

The restaurant offers a specific menu item that I enjoy

81

25

56

19

14

5

A convenient restaurant location for me

80

25

55

20

16

4

A restaurant menu which has a broad variety of menu items to choose from

78

21

56

22

18

5

A restaurant that usually has special offers

59

17

41

41

32

9

They have healthy menu items that fit my dietary needs

56

16

40

44

31

13

I usually choose the same restaurant when I go out for meal

41

8

33

59

44

15

A restaurant menu which usually has new items to choose from

39

7

32

61

48

13

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding


TABLE 5
CHANGES IN DINING OUT HABITS
"Please indicate how much you agree or disagree with the following statements."

Base: All adults


Agree (NET)

Strongly agree

Somewhat agree

Disagree

(NET)

Somewhat disagree

Strongly agree

Not at all sure

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

I find myself cooking more instead of going out in order to save money

71

41

29

26

17

9

4

Going out to eat used to be a regular occurrence for me, but now it's a luxury

57

25

32

39

26

13

4

I will out as often, but now it is usually at a lower priced restaurant

36

10

26

60

36

24

4

I will cut spending in other places in order to still be able to dine out

29

6

23

66

37

29

5

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.

TABLE 6
CHANGES IN DINING OUT HABITS – by Generation and Gender
"Please indicate how much you agree or disagree with the following statements."
Percent saying Strongly/Somewhat Agree

Base: All adults


Agree

Generation

Gender

Echo

Boomers

(18-35)

Gen X

(36-47)

Baby

Boomers

(48-66)

Matures

(67+)

Men

Women

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

I find myself cooking more instead of going out in order to save money

71

72

73

71

62

65

76

Going out to eat used to be a regular occurrence for me, but now it's a luxury

57

60

61

56

44

53

61

I will out as often, but now it is usually at a lower priced restaurant

36

48

30

29

34

39

32

I will cut spending in other places in order to still be able to dine out

29

36

32

25

21

29

29

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between March 12 to 19, 2012 among 2,451 adults (aged 18 and over), of whom 2,172 own a vehicle. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

J41436
Q855, 860, 865, 870
The Harris Poll® #43, May 16, 2012
By Regina A. Corso, SVP, Harris Poll, Public Relations and Youth Research, Harris Interactive

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom and syndicated market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll® and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers proprietary solutions in the areas of market and customer insight, corporate brand and reputation strategy, and marketing, advertising, public relations and communications research. Harris possesses expertise in a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Additionally, Harris has a portfolio of syndicated offerings that complement our custom solutions while maximizing our client's research investment.  Serving clients in more than 215 countries and territories through our North American and European offices and a network of global partners, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us - and our clients - stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

Press Contact:
Corporate Communications
Harris Interactive
212-539-9600
press@harrisinteractive.net

 

SOURCE Harris Interactive



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