CHICAGO – High unemployment among US Hispanics and Latinos has resulted in a loss of 86 million restaurant visits, according to new research from The NPD Group, a leading global information company.

Visit declines by segment show quick service restaurants (QSR) held 84 percent share of US Hispanic's restaurant visits in 2012, a one percent increase in share from year-ago. Restaurant visits by non-Hispanics accounted for 78 percent of QSR restaurant visits. US Hispanics' patronage of full service restaurants is historically below average, according to NPD, so their declining visits to this segment were even more pronounced in 2012.

“US Hispanics are an increasingly important customer base for the foodservice industry — they made some 9.6 billion visits in 2012 and spent $63 billion” said Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant industry analyst. “Understanding how, why, and when US Hispanics use restaurants and other foodservice outlets can help operators and supplier partners focus on efforts to entice this group to visit.”

Declines were steepest among less bicultural US Hispanics, who made 2 percent fewer visits in 2012 compared to 2011, according to NPD’s CREST Hispanic, which tracks US Hispanics use of restaurants daily. The high unemployment rate among Hispanics and Latinos, which averaged 10.3 in 2012 percent compared to a national average of 8.1 percent, is a contributing factor to their foodservice visit declines, according to NPD.

Hispanics, especially those who are more bicultural, are younger as a group than non-Hispanics, NPD said. Hispanics between the ages 18 and 34 represent 34 percent of Hispanic restaurant visitors, according CREST Hispanic. This age group, although still the heaviest restaurant users among Hispanics cut back on their use of restaurants in 2012 more than any other Hispanic age group.

However, despite restaurant visits, Hispanics' average check climbed 4 percent compared to a year ago. NPD attributed the check increase their shift away from value menus, most likely due to the change in offerings or price increases.