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Inflation is still causing meal prices to rise at restaurants. 
CHICAGO — Global information company, The NPD Group, reports that after six consecutive quarters of flat or negative traffic, growth at quick-service restaurant (QSR) burger and gourmet coffee chains drove total foodservice industry traffic to 1 percent for the quarter ending in September. 

The top QSR burger and gourmet coffee chains account for a sizeable percentage of total QSR traffic and have a significant impact on industry traffic overall. QSR visits, not including burgers and coffee chains, were flat but still an improvement from the previous quarter when traffic was negative, according to NPD’s CREST data, which tracks consumers’ daily visits to foodservice venues and resaurants.  

“The marketing initiatives and marketing clout of the QSR leaders turned the industry in a positive direction this past quarter,” says Bonnie Riggs, NPD’s restaurant industry analyst. “What they promoted found favor with consumers, and they should keep it up.” 

QSR burger and gourmet coffee chains implemented some marketing initiatives including deals that added value, new products and delivery to incentivize visit growth in the quarter. 

Deal-related traffic for these restaurant categories was up by 7 percent. Additionally, non-deal traffic for these chains rose 4 percent. 

Fast-casual traffic was up 8 percent compared to same quarter in 2016. Unit growth has been the leading factor in fast casual traffic gains over previous quarters.  

Full-service restaurants, which include family dining/midscale, casual dining and fine dining, posted visit declines. 

According to NPD, this was the first quarter fine dining restaurants posted a decline whereas visits to casual dining and midscale restaurants have experienced long-term traffic declines. 

Consumer spending at restaurants and other foodservice outlets increased by 2 percent in the quarter over the same period last year mainly due to increased menu prices. Average check sizes at restaurants have grown year-over-year, resulting in an increased cost of 18 percent for a restaurant meal in the last decade.