Budget concerns and other factors are leading some Americans to eat out less often and at lower-priced restaurants, a recent survey shows. Here in Houston, restaurant reservations are down this year compared with 2022 but the area is performing better than in other markets.
Data from the restaurant reservation platform OpenTable shows reservations in Houston declined 2.2% in the first 10 months of this year compared with the same period in 2022. Reservations are down 4.2% in Dallas year-over-year while Austin is seeing a 2% decline. Elsewhere across the South, Atlanta saw a 3% decline and Orlando is down 5.1% while New Orleans is holding steady with just a 0.3% decrease in reservations.
OpenTable is just one of several popular reservation platforms, but with more than 30% market-share in the global reservation space, it’s a good proxy for overall industry health.
According to a recent survey by the credit reporting agency TransUnion 19% of U.S. households plan to spend less at restaurants through the end of this year. Eighty percent of those planning to spend less said higher menu prices are the main reason. Indeed, menu prices are about 6% higher than they were a year ago, according to September data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
But the TransUnion survey offered some hope for the industry. Sixty-four percent of respondents said they plan to spend about the same on dining out for the remainder of the year with another 17% saying they’re likely to spend more.
While some are cutting back on the frequency of dining out, others are simply making more budget conscious decisions. Seventeen percent of respondents to the TransUnion survey said they are visiting less expensive restaurants while 14% said they’re ordering cheaper menu items.
Houston is one of the most prolific restaurant cities in the country, with more than 10,000 restaurants serving more than 80 different categories of cuisine. The city’s diverse population helps produce and support a dynamic culinary scene.