Upward of 2,000 Americans will spend more per person eating away from home. According to research by USDA Economic Research Service spending increases of about 18 percent per person are expected at full-service restaurants and about 6 percent per person at fast-food establishments.
The predictions come from a statistical model conducted in 2004 that looks at the U.S. population’s changing demographics, including a projected rise in incomes, a decrease in the proportion of "traditional" households and an increase in the average age.
The ERS study shows that high-income people spend more money on dining out than their counterparts. If household incomes grow by 1 percent a year on an inflation-adjusted basis, by 2020 it could create a 17 percent increase in spending per person at full-service restaurants and 7 percent growth in fast-food sites.
Traditional households, defined as a married couple with children, tend to spend less money on food made away from home than a single-person household or those with multiple adults but no children. While traditional families made up 24 percent of households in 2000, expectations are that they’ll total only 17 percent by 2020.
But, ERS officials point out not all demographic changes will be good for restaurants. An aging population could reduce fast-food spending by 2 percent per person but have little effect on their selections at full-service restaurants.