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Mother Nature Gives Delivery a Lift

But total restaurant visits decline in the first quarter, according to NPD data.

The downside of the bad weather that plagued much of the U.S. during the first quarter of 2014 was that it resulted in a 1 percent decline in restaurant visits, according to the NPD Group. The good news, though, took the form of a 4 percent increase in restaurant delivery orders.

Another positive effect of the extreme weather conditions this past winter were double-digit increases in hot tea, hot chocolate, and frozen/slushy coffee servings, NPD added. Additionally, quick-service coffee, donut, and bagel restaurants that serve these drinks saw traffic increase by 5 percent compared to the winter quarter of 2013, according to NPD's CREST foodservice market research.

Visits to family dining (midscale) and casual dining restaurants, both of which have been challenged by long-term traffic declines, dropped in the quarter compared to a year ago by 4 percent and 2 percent respectively, according to NPD.