Foodservice customer traffic by older consumers (Baby Boomers and Mature Traditionalists) has grown steadily over the past five years while visits from Millennials have declined, according to the NPD Group.  Baby Boomers and Mature Traditionalists are making more visits to every segment of the restaurant industry than prior to the recession, the study found.

Historically, older consumers frequented restaurants less than those in younger age groups, and so received less marketing attention, as efforts generally were made to reach the heaviest buyers, according to the NPD report.  The visit rate for older restaurant consumers is now the same as it is for those younger groups. Boomers and older generations have increased their share of restaurant traffic by six percentage points since 2008 and Millennials have decreased their share of traffic by six percentage points.

Restaurant traffic has improved slightly since the recession (traffic was up  1 percent for year ending September 2012), according to NPD’s CREST foodservice market research, although levels remain below those in 2008. Morning meal visits have completely recovered to pre-recession levels (up 2 percent for year ending September 2012), tracing entirely to increased visiting by older Boomers and Mature Traditionalists. These older consumers are also providing support for recovery of lost supper visits. Viewing visits per capita, older boomers are now heavier users (most frequent) of restaurant morning meals and supper than any other age group, the study found.