Americans Gravitating Toward Fine Dining, According to Yelp

New restaurants are opening up and — perhaps more surprisingly in the face of inflation and economic uncertainty — Americans are gravitating toward fine dining, according to Yelp Inc. data.

(Bloomberg) — New restaurants are opening up and — perhaps more surprisingly in the face of inflation and economic uncertainty — Americans are gravitating toward fine dining, according to Yelp Inc. data.

Listings for new restaurants were up 10% between April 2022 and March 2023 compared to the same period a year earlier, per a Yelp report released Wednesday. The data also revealed consumer interest — measured by viewing businesses’ Yelp pages or posting reviews — in higher-end dining surpassed pre-Covid levels, while the appetite for more affordable options waned.

The figures show the restaurant industry and its consumer base are holding up well despite staffing shortages, rising interest rates and persistent inflation. A recent report showed sales at restaurants and bars rose in May, but at a much slower pace than over the past two years.

The growth in restaurant openings — which can be added by either the business itself or Yelp users — was led by pop-up concepts, which are fleeting in nature and feature experimental menus, according to the report. Other options like ramen, tacos and sushi also saw openings rise notably.

The data also showed rising interest in other services like arts and entertainment as well as bars and nightlife, suggesting consumers are still looking to spend on discretionary experiences.

Not all spending categories have seen growth. Consumer interest in beauty services, event planning and travel decreased sharply nationwide year-over-year. Cities more impacted by layoffs, such as San Francisco and San Jose, saw even bigger drops in some categories, Yelp said.

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