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Foodservice Traffic Dips

The NPD Group reports the continued slowdown makes for six consecutive quarters of weak traffic.


Customer visits to restaurants and food outlets continued a negative path in the quarter ending June 30, according to The NPD Group. The decline marks six quarters in a row with no traffic growth, something The NPD Group reports the U.S. foodservice industry has not experienced since the Great Recession.

Average check size reflected higher menu prices, rising 2.6 percent.

“No doubt the rising cost of a restaurant meal is weighing heavily on industry traffic performance,” said Bonnie Riggs, restaurant industry analyst for The NPD Group.  “The vast majority of consumers give restaurants fairly low ratings on affordability compared to other customer satisfaction attributes.”

Family- and casual-dining concepts took the biggest hit, dropping 4 percent and 3 percent respectively compared to the same quarter a year ago, according to The NPD Group’s CREST data, which tracks daily restaurant usage.

Visits to quick-service restaurants, which maintain 83 percent of industry traffic, were flat for the quarter compared to the year prior. A few bright spots did emerge within the QSR segment. The hamburger category gained 13 million visits in the quarter versus the year prior and fast-casual traffic grew by 77 million incremental visits, according to The NPD Group.

Morning meals also continue to grow, albeit ever so slightly, up 1 percent versus the same quarter a year ago. The NPD Group gave credit to QSRs for the breakfast uptick.

Foodservice delivery also eked out a positive gain, up 2 percent. The four categories earning credit for that growth were QSR sandwich, QSR burger, midscale and Asian.

“Although there were a few performance bright spots this quarter, these visit occasions are not large enough to move the industry in a positive direction,” said Riggs.