CHICAGO – Consumers' restaurant visits during breakfast climbed for the fourth consecutive year, while visits at lunch and dinner declined, according to The NPD Group, a leading market research firm.

Consumers made more than 12.5 billion breakfast visits to US foodservice outlets in 2013, a 3 percent gain over 2012, NPD noted. The good news for foodservice doesn't stop there — NPD forecasted total restaurant morning meal visits to grow by 7 percent over the next nine years. Quick-service breakfast traffic is expected to increase by 9 percent, the research firm said.

“Breakfast continues to be a bright spot for the restaurant industry as evidenced by the number of chains expanding their breakfast offerings and times,” said Bonnie Riggs, NPD’s restaurant industry analyst. “A restaurant morning meal serves a variety of needs. In addition to helping us jump start our day, it satisfies the need for convenience, is less costly than other restaurant meals, and is readily available to us.”

Quick service restaurants experienced the biggest increase in breakfast visits of all restaurant segments with a 4 percent increase in the year ending December 2013. QSRs accounted for about 80 percent of total restaurant morning meals.