Frugality Fatigue Rises

May 22, 2013: Restaurant Spending Rises

Several years ago I first told you about “frugality fatigue” and how many Americans were starting to spend despite continuing tight economic conditions. Today, frugality fatigue is spreading. According to an article in USA Today, “an increasing number of Americans say they are less frugal than they were a few years ago.” And apparently one of the places they’re spending money is restaurants. In fact, restaurant revenues are, says USA Today, “at an all-time high (hitting $45.9 billion in April) and at least one survey says consumers expect to spend more eating out as soon as their pocketbooks allow.”

The previous high was set in December, and then sales slowed from January through March. Bruce Grindy, the chief economist of the National Restaurant Association, thinks the temporary decline was “likely due in part to the impact of the payroll tax hike.”

The NRA also released a survey showing that even more consumers wanted to eat out more often. Nearly half of the adults (49 percent) and 54 percent of the women surveyed said they wanted to dine out more than they were. Grindy believes this means that “once consumers are feeling more confident about their personal financial situation” they’ll head to restaurants.

Gallup, which conducted the frugality survey, reports 26 percent of Americans are spending more today, and only 41 percent claim to be spending less, compared to 57 percent who said they were not spending in 2010.

If you’re trying to target the new “big” spenders, you might want to market to Millennials (Gen Y) one-third of whom tell Gallup they’re spending more money than they previously spent.

Part 1 of a two-part Trendcast on Food Trends.