Visits to U.S. restaurants are forecast to grow less than 1 percent a year over the next decade, slower than the 1.1 percent a year growth in the country's population, according to recently released food service market research by The NPD Group, a leading market research company.

The report, "A Look into the Future of Foodservice," forecasts that annual visits to restaurants will increase by 8 percent over the next 10 years.

The report, which provides forecasts of restaurant segments, categories, visit situations, and beverage and food products based on U.S. aging shifts, population growth and recent trends, finds that the aging of the U.S. population over the next decade will not benefit the restaurant industry.

"The aging effect on the restaurant industry will be slightly negative because of aging Baby Boomers," said Bonnie Riggs, NPD's restaurant industry analyst and author of "A Look into the Future of Foodservice."

"A greater share of visits will source to those 50 years and older in 2019, but as consumers age they become less frequent restaurant users," Riggs said. "This means the restaurant industry will have heavier dependence on lighter buyers."

Trend momentum, which captures behavioral momentum based on the past nine years and includes such factors as new menu items, promotions, and restaurant openings and closings, has not been working in the industry's favor.

"In addition to being hit hard by the recession, Americans are eating more suppers at home, and fewer women entering the workforce have negatively impacted restaurant industry traffic," Riggs said. "The current trend momentum may not appear favorable for the industry moving forward, but it's the area where the industry has the greatest opportunity to change the direction of the forecast. There isn't much that can be done about the aging of the population and population growth."

She pointed out that the growth in the breakfast and afternoon-snack markets examples of potential opportunities.

"Forecasts are something to be worked against, but are not cast in stone," Riggs said.


Gents Barberspa is adding a women's line. The spa at the corner of Vendue Range and East Bay Street in downtown Charleston will host a ribbon-cutting at 6 p.m. today for its new Ladies Pamperspa. Cocktails will follow to celebrate the launch and the seventh anniversary of Gents.

Now showing

The owners of the Hippodrome Theater have gone back to their roots. Mike Furlinger and John Brieger will still operate the wide-screen theater on Concord Street, but they now have their own retail shop of exotic goods.

Charleston Sweet Gourmet recently opened at 36 Windermere Blvd. in South Windermere Shopping Center in West Ashley. It offers more than 900 products, some hard to find, from 20 countries, from French caviar to Godiva chocolate from Belgium. Furlinger said he had similar stores in New York and Texas for 20 years before coming to Charleston in 2007.


Bella Vista Bridal and Wedding Boutique will open in a new location Saturday at 60 Calhoun St. The shop at 211 King St. closed last weekend for the move.

Going dark

Bojangles closed its restaurant at 1115 Savannah Highway after not renewing the lease, according to Kevin Archer of K-Bo, the franchise owner. A sign on the door directs customers to another store at 1313 Sam Rittenberg Blvd. in West Ashley. Another Bojangles is set to open in October on Johnnie Dodds Boulevard in Mount Pleasant.