CHICAGO ? After three years of traffic declines, restaurant visits from families or parties with kids during the summer of 2010 increased, according to The NPD Group, a leading market research company. Visits by parties with kids increased by 1% in the quarter ending August 2010 versus the same quarter a year ago.

“Although the visits increase reflect just one quarter, the return of parties with kids is another sign that business is beginning to pick up for the restaurant industry,” said Bonnie Riggs, NPD’s restaurant industry analyst. “Parties with kids are integral to the industry and make a significant contribution in both volume and sales.”

Even with visits down, families or parties with kids accounted for 14 billion meals and snacks and $70 billion in sales last year, according to NPD.