Amidst the dynamic landscape of the dining industry, marked by its resilience and adaptability in the face of COVID-related challenges and economic shifts, the upcoming year promises further evolution and transformation. An insightful white paper from provides a better understanding of the trends shaping the dining industry through location analytics, visitation patterns, demographic insights, and psychographic trends to forecast the trajectory of the dining sector in 2024.  

A comparative analysis of quarterly visits in 2023 and 2022 unveils the impact of economic fluctuations on the dining landscape. Despite a robust start in Q1 2023, with overall year-over-year (YoY) dining visits on the rise – possibly buoyed by a subdued Q1 2022 due to Omicron – growth plateaued in Q2 2023. However, segments such as QSR, Fast Casual, and Coffee continued to witness YoY visit upticks, likely fueled by consumers opting for more affordable dining options amidst rising prices.

The market experienced a notable slowdown in foot traffic in Q3 2023, as inflation and constrained consumer budgets dampened discretionary spending. Overall dining visits declined 2.4% YoY, with full-service restaurants bearing the brunt of economic uncertainties due to their relatively higher price points. Nonetheless, there were pockets of resilience: Fast Casual maintained positive YoY visit numbers, while Coffee experienced an impressive 5.4% YoY growth in Q3 visits. As the return to office gathers momentum, pre-work coffee runs and lunchtime visits to fast-casual chains may continue driving growth in these segments. 

The dynamics of restaurant visitation have undergone notable shifts in recent years. While an 8 PM dinner reservation was once coveted at fine-dining establishments, data now indicates a rising preference for earlier dining times. Conversely, within the QSR segment, a contrasting trend is emerging, with late-night visits witnessing an uptick. Analysis of hourly foot traffic at major QSR chains reveals a significant increase in visits between 9 PM and 12 AM from Q3 2019 to Q3 2023. Even Taco Bell, renowned for its appeal to the late-night crowd, saw a substantial YoY increase in late-night visits, underscoring evolving consumer preferences and dining behaviors.

One driving force behind the extension of restaurant operating hours is the desire to attract more Gen-Z diners, known for their penchant for nighttime dining experiences. However, insights from location intelligence suggest that it's not just Gen-Zers; younger millennials are also gravitating towards late-night QSR options.

A deep dive into the captured market of top locations within Taco Bell's key market, the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI Metropolitan area, unveils a noteworthy year-over-four-year (Yo4Y) uptick in the "Singles & Starters" demographic. This segment, as defined by Experian: Mosaic, comprises young singles and starter families residing in urban areas, typically aged between 25 and 30 years old. With consumers increasingly prioritizing experiential entertainment and social outings with friends, the allure of late-night dining is likely to continue capturing the interest of young urbanites.

Staying ahead of dining trends is essential for industry stakeholders to remain competitive and thrive in 2024. Insights into which dining segments are primed for success, how restaurant chains are adapting to shifting consumer behaviors, and where brands are directing dining foot traffic through innovative advertising strategies provide invaluable guidance for strategic decision-making.

A Trusted Guide in Commercial Real Estate

Coldwell Banker Commercial® provides Commercial Real Estate Services from Property Sales and Leases, to Property Management. Learn how our expansive network of Independently Owned and Operated Affiliates and Real Estate Professionals use their in-depth knowledge of the local market and industry trends to help businesses and investors navigate the complexities of the commercial real estate landscape.