Restaurant visits decline around the world overall

If you scaled back on dining out last summer due to financial concerns, you're not alone.

Low consumer confidence and a turbulent economy are being blamed for an overall decline in restaurant visits around the world in the quarter ending in September 2011, reveals a new report by market research company The NPD Group.

Restaurant traffic declines were steepest in Spain, analysts said Wednesday, where a fragile economy has made Spanish consumers skittish about their expenses, and in Japan, which is still suffering from the aftereffects of last year's earthquake.

Restaurant visits did increase over the last year in countries with stable or growing economies, the report found, like Canada, China and France. Interestingly, despite its unstable economic climate, restaurant visits were also up in Italy in the same quarter, analysts said.

And while China posted gains of 19 percent over the same quarter last year, analysts warn that consumer confidence is falling.

"Chinese consumers have become more careful about spending their money on foodservice visiting, and are increasingly selecting inexpensive foodservice channels, such as bakery, coffee shop and retail, and ordering less food and beverage items," said Christina Ma, NPD director of China foodservice in a statement.

The average eater's check, meanwhile, ranged from $6.23 USD in the US to $7.06 in the UK, $9.06 in France and $9.29 in Japan.

The report also reveals that lunch traffic appears to be growing in the more stable economies, while restaurant visits for breakfast are experiencing growth across the board.

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