CHICAGO ? US restaurant visits are still below the level tallied six years ago, but signs of improvement appeared during the second half of 2010, according to The NPD Group, a leading market research company. Restaurant traffic was flat for the quarter ending December 2010, compared to a 3% decline for same quarter year ago. Visits to quick-service restaurants increased in the second half of 2010.

Non-deal visits stopped declining, which is one more sign the foodservice industry is improving, according to NPD. Consumer restaurant spending also started to return. In the last three quarters of 2010, spending increased, which yielded an increase in spending for 2010. As a result, the industry is close to the dollar level registered in 2008.