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2024 Retail and Dining Trends Update

by 
Ezra Carmel
 on 
June 12, 2024
2024 Retail and Dining Trends Update

After a frigid start to the year, how have retail and dining foot traffic fared in the subsequent months? We dove into the data to find out.

Key Takeaways

  • In Q1 2024, overall retail visits increased by 4.2% year over year (YoY), while overall dining visits increased by 2.4%. And both categories continued to see visit growth in April and May.
  • Between March and May 2024, fast-casual & quick-service restaurants (QSR) saw YoY visit growth throughout the United States – while full-service restaurants (FSR) saw growth in 42 states.

Overall Retail and Dining Traffic: YoY Increases

Last year was all about experiences. But in 2024, consumer demand is once again striking a balance between “fun and stuff.” Though both retail and dining foot traffic were weighed down by January 2024’s extreme temperatures, the two categories bounced back in February, going on to see consistently positive YoY foot traffic growth through May. 

May 2024’s strong showing was likely driven in part by impressive visit boosts on two important calendar highlights: Mother’s Day weekend and Memorial Day weekend. On both of these occasions, retail and dining foot traffic outperformed 2023 levels, a further sign of consumer resilience this year.

Darlings of Dining: Fast Casual, QSR and Full Service Growth

And drilling down deeper into data shows that some of this dining growth is being driven by full-service restaurants – another sign that the segment may be experiencing a comeback.

For quite some time, casual dining concepts – including both fast-casual & QSR – have had the upper hand among dining formats, as consumers sought inexpensive ways to splurge and cut back on full-service indulgences. But FSR has begun to rally, with experiential concepts, eatertainment, and breakfast-first chains driving significant traffic

And location analytics points to a much more level playing field this year, with FSR YoY visit growth outperforming fast-casual & QSR in both March and in May. May’s visit boost in particular was likely aided by holiday visits – on both Mother’s Day and Memorial Day, full-service restaurants drew outsize crowds eager to enjoy nice meals out with friends and family. 

Mapping Fast Casual & QSR and Full Service Trends

A look at statewide visit data for both fast-casual & QSR and for full-service chains during the past three months – comparing March to May 2024 to the equivalent period of last year – shows both segments doing remarkably well throughout most of the U.S.

In the fast-casual & QSR space, all 50 states enjoyed positive YoY visit growth over the past three months – led by North Dakota (6.8%), New Hampshire (5.3%), Minnesota (5.1%), New Mexico (4.3%), and Rhode Island (4.2%). And in FSR, 42 states enjoyed positive growth – with some of the same states, including Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and New Mexico, claiming top spots. 

Looking Ahead

Will full service continue its turnaround in the second half of 2024 and can fast-casual & QSR maintain its strength? How will overall retail traffic fare during the summer months and critical back-to-school season? 

Visit Placer.ai to find out. 

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