CHICAGO — As more states lifted bans on on-premises dining, transactions at major US restaurant chains continued to improve in the week ended May 17, down 21% from the prior-year period, registering a small gain from a 23% decline the week before and marking the fifth consecutive week of improvement, according to The NPD Group. Major quick-service chain restaurant transactions declined 20% during the week, compared to a decline of 21% the prior week from the year-ago period.
An estimated 93,000 restaurant units reopened during the week in states that had previously restricted on-premises dining. At major full-service chain restaurants, transactions were down 49% from a year ago, up from a 58% decline the week before. Full-service restaurants in states where on-premises dining was permitted to reopen as of May 10 improved 13 percentage points in the week ended May 17, The NPD Group said. Full-service restaurants in “open” states have a 22-percentage-point advantage over those that remain closed for in-store consumption.
“The reopening of restaurant dine-in services across the country will certainly continue to help drive improvements, but it’s important to keep in mind that restaurant on-premise dining operations are not serving to full capacity because of safety protocols,” said David Portalatin, food industry adviser at the NPD Group. “Equally important to the industry’s recovery is the consumer’s comfort level with dining in at a restaurant now.”
As of May 22, restaurants in Kentucky were allowed to reopen dining rooms at 33% capacity, and restrictions on in-store dining were lifted in several regions of Maryland. Colorado restaurants were expected to reopen May 27 at 50% capacity with an eight-person party limit and six-foot social distancing. In Illinois, dining rooms are expected to reopen May 29 for outdoor dining only, with party limits and six-foot social distancing. Dining rooms remain closed in New Mexico, Massachusetts, Delaware, Minnesota, New York and New Jersey.