Total restaurant traffic is expected to remain stalled in 2017, which is disappointing news for an industry that makes up 10% of the total U.S. workforce.
The NPD Group reports that only quick service restaurants will see traffic growth this year.
This prediction is particularly concerning for casual chain restaurants, which have struggled to attract younger customers who desire a “new and different” experience.
In addition, more people in general are saving money by preparing their meals at home.
However, the same cannot be said for these five restaurants:
Stuck in a sales slump, Nation’s Restaurant News reports that Applebee’s rolled out a plan to transform its brand in 2016 that didn’t catch on with customers. It included the introduction of wood-fired grills and hand-cut steaks. But what customers really appear to want is value. So the chain is now turning back to promotions, including a 2 for $20 menu and $9.99 meal deals.
2 & 3. Chili’s Grill & Bar & Maggiano’s Little Italy
Owned by Brinker International, Chili’s and Maggiano’s have more than 1,600 restaurants worldwide. But Fitch Ratings reports that many of the restaurants are located in oil-producing states that have faced economic challenges. And when people don’t have money left over in their budgets, they just don’t eat out as often.
4. Ruby Tuesday
This chain’s troubles are no secret. Ruby Tuesday closed nearly 100 underperforming restaurants in late 2016, representing about 15% of its locations. The company has launched new menu items to attract more women and young families. But only time will tell if that strategy will bring more customers in the door.
5. Buffalo Wild Wings
According to Nation’s Restaurant News, Buffalo Wild Wings had three quarters with negative same-store sales in 2016. One of the problems may be that the chain increased prices too aggressively over the years. Now, Buffalo Wild Wings is focusing on the lunch crowd with a 15-minute guarantee promotion.
While some retailers have already announced 2017 store closures, the restaurants on this list have yet to announce plans to shutter any locations.
Bottom line: Expect more restaurant deals in 2017
For customers, the competition for your dollar will mean lower prices if you look for deals.
“Even as the job market improves, consumers are looking for relatively low price points and the convenience to order online when they eat away from home,” said Carla Norfleet Taylor with Fitch Ratings. “With persistent food price deflation, deal promotions will likely be a tactic restaurants use to get people in the door.”
At the end of 2016, Clark Howard recommended that you think twice before buying a bunch of gift cards for restaurants that may suddenly shut down before the cards are able to be used.
With no major changes on the horizon for the restaurant industry, his advice stands for 2017.