Thanks for Visiting!

Register for free to get the full story.

Sign Up
Already have a account? Log In

Dining & Valentine’s Day Recap

R.J. Hottovy
February 23, 2023
Dining & Valentine’s Day Recap

The dining industry has been slow to fully recover from the impacts of the pandemic, and the ongoing inflation and tighter consumer budgets are making a 2023 comeback seem increasingly unlikely. Notably, even Valentine's Day – often marked by elevated restaurant visits – may not be enough to revitalize the industry. Still, some brands are managing to meet, and exceed, their 2019 visit levels. We dive into the state of the sector to better understand what is driving these trends.

Industry Changes Leading to Visitation Shifts

To better understand how the full-service restaurant (FSR) industry is faring so far in 2023, we took a closer look at the year-over-three-year (Yo3Y) visitation trends to 20 of the largest chains in the country. 

FSR winners included steakhouse chains Texas Roadhouse, LongHorn Steakhouse, Capital Grille, and breakfast restaurants First Watch and Waffle House. These two categories – steakhouses and breakfast chains – have enjoyed a recent rise in popularity, likely boosted by recent expansions. Steakhouse leader Texas Roadhouse aims to grow from 596 locations to 900 in the next decade. First Watch opened 43 stores in 2022 and has plans for annual unit expansion between 10% to 12%, with the eventual goal of operating around 2,200 stores nationwide.  

Three steakhouses saw particularly impressive growth, with January 2023 seeing Yo3Y growth of 17.5%, 5.3%, and 0.5% for Texas Roadhouse, LongHorn Steakhouse, and The Capital Grille, respectively. In the breakfast space, First Watch exceeded January visits by 18.2% Yo3Y, and Waffle House's visits grew by 9.8%.  

Still, these trends don't mean all steakhouses and breakfast restaurants are doing well Yo3Y. With the cost of dining out 8.2% higher than last year, many middle or lower-income diners are trading down or forgoing a restaurant meal entirely. This trade-down has led to a decline in restaurant visits in the middle of the pricing scale like Cracker Barrel, Denny's, and IHOP while benefiting lower-priced chains like Waffle House.

Fast-Casual’s Pivot 

Further highlighting the effects of rising costs, visit trends to quick-service restaurants (QSR) and fast-casual dining options have evolved over the past few years. Although both fast-casual and QSR enjoyed strong visitation patterns from Q1 2017 onward, fast-casual typically performed better than QSR between 2017 and 2019. 

The pandemic saw the first instance of QSR outpacing fast-casual, with the category’s visits per location exceeding fast-casual average visits per location by around 35% in Q2 2020. The trend continued in Q3 2020, but fast-casual returned to outperform QSR for most of 2021 and early 2022. Since Q2 2022, however, as inflation took over from COVID-19 as consumers' primary concern, visits to the segment have lagged behind QSR.  

This change is likely a result of how fast-casual dining pricing has changed. Some brands, like Chipotle, choose to substantially raise their prices while discouraging discounts. The price increases may have cut into these concepts’ visit numbers but not necessarily into the brands’ profits, as higher prices encourage a more profitable customer base to visit their locations. 

The Valentine’s Day Effect

Valentine's Day is a day of love and consumer spending, one that typically sees restaurants booked out months in advance. Consumer spending has been projected to reach $26 billion on gifts and other declarations of affection for Valentines 2023, an 8% increase from 2022. But how people spend their money on Valentine's Day has changed over the past few years.

Beauty and self-care saw visit growth of 4.7% year over year (YoY) on Valentine’s Day, while the other categories analyzed saw visit lags, with visits to restaurants down 0.2% YoY. Jewelry retailers saw 13.4% fewer visits than the previous year. 

These shifts are likely another extension of the inflationary impact on consumer behavior and changes in how people spend money on Valentine's Day, with more emphasis on experiential gifts and presents, though inflation could also be playing a role.

For more data-driven retail insights, visit

Get 3 brand & industry
breakdowns every week

Subscribe to the newsletter

Great! Prepare your inbox for data-driven insights...
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Get a Demo

Please enter your first name
Please enter your last name
Please provide a valid email
Please enter your email
Please enter company name

Thanks for reaching out!

One of our experts will be in touch soon

Try Free
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Text Link
Texas Roadhouse
Text Link
The Capital Grille
Text Link
Longhorn Steakhouse
4 Strategies Retailers are Using to Drive Traffic to Their Venues
5 Key Regional Grocery Players Impressing in 2023
Upscale Kitchenware Trending Up
Costco Finds More Room for Growth
Four C-Store Chains Making an A-Grade
National Parks + Outdoor Summer Activities
Diving Into Darden: Summer 2023 Update
The Summer Event Effect
Messi: Massive in Miami
Looking Back on Back to School 2023
The Anchor Recap: August 2023 Office Index: August 2023 Recap Mall Index: August 2023 Recap White Paper Recap: August 2023
Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte Strikes Again
Big Scoop: We All Scream For Ice Cream
Sports Away: Lululemon & Nike’s Momentum Continues
Summer Visits Heat Up For Recreation and Outdoor Gear Chains
No CSS overwrite - July 2023 Office Index Recap
Staging - August 2023 Mall Indec
Mid-Atlantic Grocery Deep Dive
Experiential Chains Heating Up This Summer
Petco Goes Big by Going Small
Ulta Beauty: Leading the Discretionary Pack
Discount and Dollar Chains Continue to Thrive
Summer of Sports: DICK’s Sporting Goods and Hibbett Sports
Off-Price: Succeeding Into Summer
The Anchor Recap: July 2023
Superstores Maintaining Pandemic Gains Amidst Economic Headwinds
2023: Home Improvement at the Halfway Point
July 2023 Office Index Recap Mall Index: July 2023 Recap
widget test
The Taylor Swift Visit Lift
Southwestern Grocery Dive
July 2023 White Paper Recap: Halfway Point Review & Quarterly Index
Yum! Brands: Driving Dining Visits
Slurpees and Summer Movies Stimulate Consumer Foot Traffic
Cool Beans: Summer Coffee Update
Checking In on Back to School 2023
Crocs and New Balance Tip The Scales
Burger Bliss: Shake Shack and In-N-Out Stacking Visits
Chipotle & McDonald's Continue to Reign Supreme
Vibenomics and Partner to Enhance Retail Media In-Store Measurement
California Grocers Here We Come!
Marriott’s Different Audiences
Bonchon and Kura Sushi Thrive in the Fast-Casual Scene
A Shoe In: Footwear Climbs to the Top
Cheers! Raising a Glass to Beverage Retail Office Index: June 2023 Recap Mall Index June 2023 Recap – A Turn of the Tide and a Dive into Open-Air Lifestyle Centers
Local Kitchens: Redefining the Restaurant
Unlocking Urban Insights: The Value in Manhattan’s Employees
Ohio State Parks On The Rise
How is Inflation Impacting the High-Income Shoppers?
Five Fast-Growing Dining Chains
What To Expect From Prime Day and July Sales Events in 2023
The State Of Fashion: How Are Apparel Retailers Faring in 2023?
2023’s Latest Dining Success Story: GEN Korean BBQ House
The NBA Finals: A Location Intelligence Perspective
Moving the Market: The Impact of Domestic Migration on Housing Costs
Post-Pandemic Museum Update
The Darden-est Things
The Enduring Demand for Urban and Suburban Retail
Leveraging Data to Evaluate the Impact of Municipal Investments
Trader Joe's Success Amidst Food Inflation and Changing Consumer Behavior Office Index: May 2023 Recap
Fitness at its Fittest: Staying Strong in 2023
Movie Theaters, Off-Price, and Home Improvement: May 2023 Recap Mall Index - May 2023 Recap
What’s Working for Bath & Body Works?
Why Are Specialty Grocers Thriving in 2023?
The CAVA Craze: A Location Intelligence Perspective on the Mediterranean Marvel
How Will Primark’s US Expansion Impact Target?
All Eyes on Eyewear
Northwestern U.S. Grocery Dive
Return of the Lunch: Salad Chains Are Thriving
Retail Media Networks – Off the Beaten Track
Bet Your Bottom Dollar: Discount and Dollar Stores Drive Foot Traffic
Ulta & Lululemon: Discretionary Spending On The Up
The Score After Q1: Sporting Goods Chains
Who Uses NYC Airports: Biting Into The Big Apple’s Main Transport Hubs
Off Price: Strength in The Face of Retail Challenges
Visits Improve for Home Improvement
Walmart, Target & Wholesalers in Q1 2023 – The Return of Mission-Driven Shopping?
Department Store Roundup: Q1 2023 Office Index: April 2023 Recap Mall Index, April 2023 – A Rebound on the Horizon?
How Will Bed Bath & Beyond’s Bankruptcy Impact the Retail Space?
Buffet Restaurants: Filling Up on Foot Traffic
Thrift Stores: Vintage Visits Drive New Age in Apparel
The Windy City: A Hub of Post-Pandemic Opportunity
Diving into Dining Traffic - Q1 2023
Bring On The Joe
A Dollar (or more) For Your Thoughts: Five Below and pOpshelf
Dining Out With The Cheesecake Factory
Retail Foot Traffic Recap – March 2023
Digging Into 2023: McDonald’s and Chipotle Update Office Index: March 2023 Recap
How Did Key Retail Categories Perform in Q1 2023?