Black Box Intelligence Notes Generational Dining Differences

Restaurant spend for Gen Z consumers rebounded back to pre-crisis levels for the week ending June 21, according to a report from Black Box Intelligence, a data and insights provider of workforce, guest, consumer, and financial performance benchmarks for the hospitality industry.

Consumers older than 65 had the steepest declines in restaurant spending — recovery has been slow for this age cohort due to the demographic being considered high-risk for COVID-19. The report also suggests another explanation for the decline is that older consumers historically allocate more of their restaurant spending to full-service restaurants, which are still slowly reopening nationwide. According to data from Black Box Intelligence, in 2019, roughly 50 percent of restaurant spending by 65 and over aged consumers went to full-service restaurants with the other 50 percent going to limited service. These spending patterns have changed significantly during the pandemic, though this group still spent 70 percent at limited-service restaurants in the past 30 days.

In contrast, Gen Z allocated 75 percent of their restaurant spending in 2019 to limited service and 25 percent to full-service, which grew to 86 percent going to limited-service during the height of the pandemic.

According to the Black Box Intelligence report, restaurants experienced a strong improvement in their comp sales. The week ending June 21 was the best week for the industry since the week ending in March 8 when the pandemic had not yet become a national crisis. Despite the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in some states, the percentage of restaurants that reopened for dine-in continues to increase at the national level, contributing to the acceleration in year-over-year growth of the average per person check. As dining rooms reopen, comp dine-in sales growth has naturally improved in recent weeks for full-service restaurants. Limited-service lag in opening dining rooms is reflected in their much weaker dine-in sales growth, notes Black Box Intelligence.

Visit Black Box Intelligence for the full report.