NPD data projects 2.7 percent increase in consumer spending by year's end. 

Visits to U.S. restaurants were stable in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the traffic gains encouraged by mild winter weather in the first quarter last year, reports The NPD Group. NPD forecasts that restaurant traffic will be flat and spending will increase by 2.7 percent by year end.

Restaurant spending and average check size increased by 2 percent in the first quarter (January to March), according to NPD's foodservice market research. Steady traffic at quick-service restaurants (QSR), which represents 78 percent of foodservice industry visits, and 5 percent visit gains at fine dining/upscale hotel restaurants offset the traffic losses at casual dining and midscale/family dining restaurants.

Casual dining visits decreased by 1 percent and midscale/family dining visits declined by 2 percent in the quarter compared to same quarter last year, according to NPD's CREST research, which everyday tracks how U.S. consumers use restaurants and other foodservice outlets.