Pizza time

Americans of all ages are eating out more often.

By Rieva Lesonsky

If you own a food business (or want to start one), Restaurant Hospitality reports that “Millennials [are] dining out as frequently as marketers have always hoped.” And that trend is likely to continue throughout 2016.

The National Restaurant Association says restaurant and bar sales hit $53.7 billion in February, up from $53.2 billion in January, which outperformed overall retail revenues. The really good news here, according to Restaurant Hospitality, is that margins increased as well–likely as a result of an increase in menu prices, which are up 2.6 percent in the past year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

All of this activity is spurred by lower gas prices, job growth and a jump in real disposable income, meaning consumers have more money in their pockets–and many are spending it on dining out.

According to a survey from Visa Business and Economics Insights, 22 percent of Millennials, 13 percent of Gen X and 7 percent of Baby Boomers went out to eat more often in the past year.

Surprising, Restaurant Hospitality reports lower-income households (those earning less than $50,000 annually) led the way in spending more money in restaurants.