- More than 13 million diners were seated at restaurants via Yelp during Q1 2022, a rise of 48% compared to the year-ago quarter, according to Yelp’s State of the Restaurant Industry Report emailed to Restaurant Dive.
- Yelp also recorded a 23% increase in customers mentioning long wait times and a 229% increase in reviews mentioning short staffing during Q1 2022 compared to the year-ago quarter.
- Restaurants have continued to tweak their operating hours, menu options, available tables and other operations to address these challenges, Yelp said.
Yelp’s data also indicates more consumers are seeking out higher-priced dining experiences to get more for their money as inflation rises. Menu prices were up 7.4% overall during the month of May, according to the Consumer Price Index.
This consumer trend is similarly reflected by Black Box Intelligence data, which shows that the only restaurant segments to achieve positive traffic growth during the week of June 8 were upscale casual and fine dining.
Yelp also observed an increase in experienced-focused dining, with business openings for conveyor sushi up 500%, dinner theater up 240%, supper clubs up 200% and themed cafes up 75% from January to April 2022 compared to the same period in 2021.
By and large, interest in on-premise dining doesn’t seem to be slowing down despite increased prices and slower service. Searches for reservations in Q1 2022 increased 107% on Yelp compared to the year-ago quarter. While interest remains strong for outdoor dining — with searches up 1,060% in Q1 2022 compared to Q1 2020 — searches for indoor dining surged 6,360% on Yelp’s platform over the same period.
These searches may be resulting in more visits to restaurants. The NPD Group observed that dine-in restaurant visits were up 38% during the first quarter compared to a 45% decline a year ago. Off-premise traffic is on the decline, decreasing 9% during the first quarter versus an increase of 24% during the same period in 2021. Off-premise at full-service restaurants, where the channel represents about one-third of sales, was down 24% in the first quarter compared to an uptick of 63% during the year-ago quarter.
Takeout demand still remains elevated compared to previous years despite recent declines. Yelp searches for takeout fell 31% during the first quarter, but were up 107% compared to Q1 2020 and up 144% compared to Q1 2019. This change shows that takeout is a pandemic trend that will likely continue, the company said. Yelp, which added the ability for brands to tag themselves as virtual restaurants in September, also noted that over 3,000 businesses added that label since this launch.