Business-Meal Spending Makes A Comeback in October

Business-Meal Spending Makes A Comeback in October

A recent survey by Consumer Edge Insight shows a large increase in spending on business-related meals, including more consumers trading up to fine-dining and casual-dining.

According to Restaurant DemandTracker, a recent survey of restaurant customers in the United States, the number of business-related meals is up from last year but average spending on those meals is up very substantially. This trend favors fine-dining restaurants, which are more likely to be visited for business meals, but also casual-dining restaurants that are appropriate for those occasions.

The percentage of restaurant customers who were reimbursed by their employer for at least one meal in the past week was 11% in October 2013, compared to just 9% In October 2012. The average number of business-related meals per week among that group was 3.0 in October 2013, a slight decline compared to 3.3 In October 2012. The larger number of people ordering business meals more than offsets the lower average number of meals per person, so the total number of business-related meals appears to be up slightly over this period.

However, spending per business meal rose substantially over the same period. Average total spending on business meals was $55 per week in October 2013, vs. only $45 in October 2012. This translates to an average check per business meal of about $18.50 in October 2013 vs. $13.50 last year.

A substantial portion of this improvement in check size was driven by a higher degree of trade-up to fine-dining among business-meal-customers. In October2013 42% of business-meal-customers visit a fine-dining restaurant once a week or more (for any type of meal) vs. just 34% in October 2012. Over the same time the number of business-meal customers who visit casual-dining restaurants once a week or more (for any reason) also increased, rising from 48% last year to 53% this year, but not as big an increase as seen for the fine-dining segment.

Restaurant customers with business-meals are far more likely to visit fine-dining restaurants once per week (42%) than customers with no business meals (5%). Restaurant customers with business-meals are also much more likely to visit casual-dining restaurants once per week or more (53%) than customers with no business meals (20%). This means the average weekly spending on restaurants of customers with business meals is about $122, compared to just $41 for those with no business meals.

“A higher-spending business meal customer is a very welcome development for the high-end but also the middle tier of the restaurant industry” said David Decker, President of Consumer Edge Insight. “For fine-dining restaurants, one of their core customer segments is starting to visit restaurants more often and is more likely to be trading up to fine-dining than a year ago. While this is a smaller customer segment for most casual-dining restaurants in terms of traffic, the higher average spending among this group makes them an important segment to understand and target as much as possible given your brand.”

Restaurant DemandTracker, a syndicated consumer research service from Consumer Edge Insight, provides an indepth analysis each quarter of how key economic and secular factors impact restaurant demand and which brands are best-positioned to succeed. Data for the most recent Restaurant DemandTracker was collected in October 2013 via an online survey of over 3,000 US consumers, age 18 and over, designed and weighted to be representative of the US adult population that visit restaurants at least once per month. Some of the topics covered include economic factors driving changes in restaurant patronage, impact of health trends on overall patronage and by segment, changing demographic profiles of restaurant segment users, and numerous brand performance metrics. The research covers the quick-service, fast-casual, family-dining, casual-dining, fine-dining, and pizza-takeout segments in detail.

To learn more, call David Decker at (203) 504-7558 or send an email to

Consumer Edge Insight LLC is a market research and consulting firm that helps clients who want to have deeper insight into how consumer behavior is changing around the world and how to profit from those changes. We help companies monitor key trends and develop strategies to enhance shareholder value. In the restaurant industry we have marketing partnerships with GuestMetrics and BlackBox Intelligence. For further information, contact David Decker,, or visit