Foodservice traffic lags through June

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NPD report indicates this is the sixth straight quarter of declining visits.
CHICAGO – As the weather started warming up during the months of April through June, foodservice traffic at US restaurants remained tepid, according to information from NPD Group’s restaurant industry research. The latest quarterly negative trend represents the sixth-consecutive quarter of weak traffic. According to NPD, “The US foodservice industry has not experienced six quarters in a row of no traffic growth since the recession of 2008-09.”

The hardest hit segment was among the midscale/family dining restaurants, with midscale concepts seeing a 4 percent decline in traffic for the quarter versus the same quarter last year according to NPD’s CREST data. Likewise, casual concepts reported a 3 percent drop in visits for the quarter compared to the previous year. Even quick-service restaurants (QSRs) reported lackluster traffic that was flat overall but this was offset by robust traffic increases across QSR burger and fast-casual restaurants as quarterly visits spiked by 13 million and 77 million, respectively for the quarter. 

According to NPD, cost was a factor in the latest quarter’s lagging numbers. 

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

Riggs added that there were some highlights in the report, including morning visits increasing modestly at 1 percent and foodservice delivery increasing 2 percent, but these traffic bumps will not likely move the needle much on their own. 

“Operators will need to be critical in increasing prices and make sure that when they do raise prices the quality of the food and experience is commensurate with their customer’s cost,” she said.   
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