The study shows that restaurants offering more lower-calorie menu items are seeing increased sales and traffic, reports Nation’s Restaurant News. Overall, chains that made the switch saw an increase in traffic of 10.9% and an increase in same-store sales of 5.5%. Chain’s that didn’t do so saw a drop in traffic of 14.7% and same-store sales diminish 5.5%
The study – conducted between 2006 and 2011 – studied 21 chains, including McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD), Burger King (NYSE:BKW), Applebee’s, Denny’s (NASDAQ:DENN), Olive Garden and Outback Steakhouse among others. It defined “lower calorie” as meals having less than 500 calories for the main item and 150 calories for side items. Beverages needed to have fewer than 50 calories to qualify.
“We found that those restaurant chains that were growing their lower-calorie time on the menu … demonstrate business advantages,” Henry Cardello, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, said in the study’s release. “They’re seeing their same-store sales grow. They’re seeing customer traffic increase.”