Labor Department: Food Away from Home Spending Drops

October 7, 2010

In 2009 Restaurant Business Suffered from the Recession

The recession has obviously altered American’s spending habit.  The U.S. Labor Department recently reported that consumers in the middle fifth of the population spent 3.5% less in 2009 than in the year before.

The drop was exceptional in the middle 20% of consumers who cut their food away from home spending by 9.45% from the year before. that counts those with incomes ranging from roughly $36,000 to $58,000 a year.  Looking at all consumers, spending for food at home increased some 8.31% in ’09 from the preceding year.

A press release from NPD, a national consumer research firm, showed that total restaurant visits declined some 3% in 2009.  That was the first time that had happened since the study by NPD began in 1976.

This increase in at home food spending correlates nicely with the CMA estimate that consumers spent 1% more on branded cookware in 2009 and nearly 10% more on bakeware. Kitchenware was up over 24% in 2009 from 2008 as well.  At the same time private label product was down as retailers trimmed inventories and shortened lead times as much as they could.  The total of branded and private label spending on cookware dropped about 8% in 2009 from the year previous year and spending on branded and private label bakeware jumped some 23%.

In tough economic times, it is understandable that consumers trim discretionary spending where ever they can.  Cooking at home, whether its for family meals or baking for special occasions may become the new normal.  Restaurants are fighting back by using cheaper cuts of meat, running specials (see Appleby’s two entrees for $14 special), and advertising dollar menu items.

Consumers continue to look for value. Cookware, given what it does and what it enables consumers to save, is a wise investment.