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As More Americans Avoid Dining Out Amid Rising Costs, Here’s How Restaurants Are Trying to Adapt

Customers are spending less and preferring to eat at home, so various industry giants are trying to find ways to get more customers.
PUBLISHED MAY 4, 2024
Cover Image Source: Restaurants are adopting new ways to bring back customers (representative image) | Photo by Adrienn | pexels
Cover Image Source: Restaurants are adopting new ways to bring back customers (representative image) | Photo by Adrienn | pexels

With the rising cost of goods and services, dining out may feel like a luxury to Americans. In fact it is quite difficult to get customers to spend money at some restaurants. Starbucks just announced that their earnings from stores operating for a minimum of a year had decreased by 3% during the previous few months. That hasn't happened since 2020, so it's a significant departure from the 12% gain they experienced the previous year. Their earnings from these kinds of stores fell by 11% in China, one of their largest markets. As a result, Starbucks now projects lower overall revenue.

Image Source: A Dubai airport employee looks at the premises as she walks by a Starbucks Cafe | Photo by Horacio Villalobos#Corbis | Corbis via Getty Images
A Dubai airport employee looks at the premises as she walks by a Starbucks Cafe | Photo by Horacio Villalobos#Corbis | Corbis via Getty Images

About the company's earnings, Starbucks CEO Laxman Narasimhan stated during a call that many customers are being really picky about where and how they spend their money as most of the extra money from government help during the pandemic has been spent. This is consistent with recent statements made by other businesses.

Due to rising interest rates, rising costs, depleting surplus funds from the pandemic, and uncertainty about the direction of the economy, people are becoming more frugal with their expenditures. So now, companies are trying harder to get people to spend money with them. Starbucks, for example, is coming up with new ways to make their drinks without so much sugar, offering a new low-calorie energy drink, and making improvements to their app so it's easier for people to order, hoping to get new customers and get the ones who only come in sometimes to visit more often.

Image Source: People work at a Starbucks in Manhattan| Photo by Spencer Platt | Getty Images
Image Source: People work at a Starbucks in Manhattan| Photo by Spencer Platt | Getty Images

More Americans are opting to cook at home to save money because eating out is becoming more expensive. In the March report on consumer prices, the price of food purchased for in-home meals remained unchanged. However, the cost of dining out increased by 0.3% over the previous month. People's eating out behavior has changed and this has impacted McDonald's performance. The fast-food chain's performance in the first half of this year was worse than that of last year. Their global store sales increased by just 1.9%, a far cry from the 12.6% gain they had the previous year.

McDonald's, which usually has a lot of power to decide how much to charge its customers, said earlier this year that people are getting tired of paying more. "Everyone's competing for fewer customers or customers who aren't coming in as often, so we have to be really good at fighting for their business no matter what's happening around us," said Ian Borden, the global head of McDonald's financial affairs, in a conference call with analysts.

Those with lower incomes are staying extra cautious when it comes to spending. Olive Garden's parent company, Darden Restaurants, has observed a decline in revenue at its locations over the past few months. They added that, in comparison to the previous year, they sold fewer items to households earning less than $75,000 annually, and that this was the case for every restaurant they owned.

Image Source: Motorists queue to use the Drive Thru hatch of the fast food restaurant McDonald's,| Photo by Matt Cardy | Getty Images
Motorists queue to use the Drive Thru hatch of the fast food restaurant McDonald's | Photo by Matt Cardy | Getty Images
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