Changes in dining out behavior Americans appear to be cutting back in how often they eat out; when asked whether they have eaten out more or less frequently at the same list of restaurant types over the past six months, "less frequently" responses consistently outpace "more frequently" ones:
- Fast food restaurant chain (26% less, 14% more)
- Local casual dining restaurant (20% less, 14% more)
- Casual dining restaurant chain (24% less, 11% more)
- Local fine dining restaurant (21% less, 7% more)
- Fine dining restaurant chain (23% less, 4% more)
However, it is worth noting that "less frequently" mentions have declined across all categories, in most cases considerably so, when compared to March 2012 results:
- Fast food restaurant chain (36% 2012, 26% 2013)
- Local casual dining restaurant (32% 2012, 20% 2013)
- Casual dining restaurant chain (34% 2012, 24% 2013)
- Local fine dining restaurant (27% 2012, 21% 2013)
- Fine dining restaurant chain (26% 2012, 23% 2013)
Factors in Choosing a Restaurant There are multiple factors driving Americans' choices between the restaurants available to them, with those most frequently identified as important including good prices (90%), the mood they are in (for either type of cuisine or type of food – 86%), having a specific menu item they enjoy (84%), a convenient location (83%) and a broad variety of menu items (78%). The majority also consider special offers (59%) and healthy menu items that fit a dietary need (56%) to be important.
Two things the majority of Americans say are not important when choosing a restaurant are choosing the same restaurant when going out for a meal (56%) and a restaurant with a menu that usually has new items to choose from (57%).