There's both good and bad news when it comes to the way consumers are using restaurants, according to a new report released by the NPD Group, a Chicago-based market research company. First the bad news: consumer visits to restaurants declined by 1 percent this past spring, marking the eighth consecutive quarter where visits failed to grow. Now the good news: the rate of decline eased a little compared to last year's 3 percent decline for the same time frame. In addition, after four consecutive quarters of declines consumer spending at commercial foodservice this spring edged above a year ago spending with a 1 percent bump.
Traffic was weakest at full service restaurants, visits to casual dining restaurants were down 2 percent and midscale restaurant traffic was down 3 percent. Traffic to quick service restaurants was stable in the second calendar quarter following five quarters of year-over-year declines, according to NPD's CREST report, which tracks consumer usage of commercial and non-commercial foodservice outlets,
Traffic losses at non-commercial foodservice outlets also eased slightly in the second quarter, though traffic is still 6 percent less than last year's levels for the same quarter ending June 2010, according to NPD.
Breakfast is one area showing traffic growth this spring with visits up 1 percent at all restaurants, including 2 percent at QSRs, compared to last year's levels, according to NPD. Dinner continued to post weak traffic trends, down 2 percent for the spring quarter across all restaurant segments. Lunch visits declined by 2 percent.