Weak economic recovery and low consumer confidence have prompted restaurant traffic in 2011 to flatten out or decrease across most of the industry. With the exception of fine dining establishments, customers have increasingly stayed away from restaurants.
Casual dining restaurants, like Applebee's, and midsize family restaurants, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, have both lost foot traffic since 2009. Those type of restaurants account for nearly 20 percent of the industry. Fast food restaurants, usually considered stable during economic tough times, have been flat over the last several quarters. They account for 78 percent of all restaurant visits.
Fine dining plunged in 2009 before recovering in mid-2010. That segment of the restaurant industry has noted continual, steady growth since then. Among the chains bucking these trends: McDonald's, Panera and Chipotle.
There have already been more than 61 billion restaurant visits in 2011.