We published our first State of Business Report in 2020 to help restaurants increase resilience during COVID-19. Three years later, we are in the new normal. Business dining recovery (measured by the BDIndex) has not reached 2019 levels but hovered between 83 and 92 for the past year. It has held steady at 88% for the past two quarters.
Since we began reporting on the BDIndex, it has consistently spiked in Q4, driven by holiday dining demand. We expect that pattern to hold moving into the final quarter of this year as businesses increasingly invest in dining to build culture, drive valuable in-person networking, and incentivize employees to return to the office.
What should restaurants expect after the holiday business dining boost? There are competing forces at play. Although hybrid work continues to drag corporate spend, in-person business meetings are making a comeback. Large business dining transactions over $3,000 have increased, and event volume is currently at 90% of pre-pandemic levels in the major markets. Restaurants that can appeal to event planners stand to profit from this trend.
Meanwhile, restaurant dining is increasingly on the chopping block for the consumer dining segment. Consumer dining recovery as reported by Technomic did hit a high of 115 this year, but because foot traffic decreased 30% between Q1 and Q2, the bump in spend is partly due to rising prices. It will be interesting to see how this “tale of two segments” plays out as inflation eats away at household budgets.
While COVID no longer shapes corporate travel decisions, we expect another crisis to drive transformative policy shifts: The climate crisis. 65% of businesses consider sustainability their most critical initiative and they are taking steps to reduce their footprints — like rethinking essential travel and choosing responsible suppliers. Restaurants can gain an edge by adopting sustainable practices.
As we navigate this ever-changing dining landscape, I’m confident that the same resilience propelling restaurants and corporations through the past years’ challenges will continue to drive innovation and adaptability. Together, we can shape a future where business dining is both responsible and meaningful.
We hope our latest State of Business Dining Report will be a valuable resource for our partners as they move forward.
Q3 | 2023
The free Q3 State of Business Dining Report is now live! Download for exclusive data, insights, and tips for restaurants.