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Restaurant traffic forecasted to outpace population growth


February 3, 2012
By Canadian Pizza

February 3, 2012, Toronto – Visits to Canadian restaurants are forecasted to grow nearly two per cent per year between 2011 and 2016, according to a report recently released by The NPD Group.

The study, titled A Look into the Future of Foodservice, also notes that this rapid growth, which will total 9.1 per cent come 2016, will surpass the projected 1.2 per cent annual growth of the country’s population.

The report provides forecasts of restaurant segments, categories, visit situations, and food and beverage products based on Canada’s aging population, its population growth and recent national trends. The data reveals that the last two quarters have each shown a foodservice traffic increase of three per cent, which is driven by the 18-24 year-old age bracket and the popularity of quick-service restaurants (QSRs).

“Traditionally some of the industry’s most frequent clientele, the millennial age group – those in their late teens and early twenties – is anticipated to account for the lion’s share of visits to restaurants by 2016,” said Robert Carter, executive director of Foodservice at The NPD Group. “This trend, coupled with the consistent growth of QSRs, is an important consideration for the foodservice industry.”

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With QSRs representing 64 per cent of the overall foodservice landscape, an increase of five per cent in the past year, they carry enough weight to create a shift within the entire market. Their increased traffic, however, is creating a competitive environment amongst all restaurant genres.

Though millennials will play a large role in foodservice growth trends, the baby boomer generation should not be overlooked by the industry. A greater share of visits will source to consumers 55 years and older in 2016, but as consumers age, they are known to become lighter buyers. As this age group moves into its senior years, the restaurant industry will need to pay particular attention to their eating habits in order to increase earning potential.

“By nature, the ongoing battle for market share is certain to reveal pockets of growth,” said Carter. “In addition to the health-food movement, which is very much driven by boomers, the breakfast and lunch dayparts are ideal areas of focus, as this age group, and those who are more senior, do not tend to skip meals.”