Ironically now—in view of recent events—traffic in the still-developing Russian restaurant market jumped 7% in the fourth quarter compared with the prior year quarter, according to the latest global consumer CREST data from The NPD Group. In a remarkable change of fortune, visits in China during the quarter fell 4%, though surging menu price increases pushed the average spend 3% higher.
Among the other nine major markets tracked by Rosemont, Ill.-based NPD, only the United Kingdom, with a 2% jump helped by good weather, and Australia, which saw growth in its economy and consumer confidence in the latter part of 2013 push visits up 1%, registered gains in restaurant traffic. Traffic fell 2% in Canada, 3% in Italy and 1% in both Spain and the giant U.S. market. (NPD earlier reported that overall visits in the U.S. were flat for all of 2013 compared with 2012.) Fourth-quarter ’13 visits were flat in France, Germany and Japan.
Maria Bertoch, the director of NPD Russia Foodservice, said the 7% quarterly year-on-year increase in restaurant visits came “in spite of an economic slowdown and low consumer confidence. The key reason for this dynamic growth is that the Russian foodservice market is still very young and far from saturated.”
China’s 4% drop in visits is remarkable, given that until early 2013, the country’s foodservice sector posted double-digit traffic gains quarter after quarter for years.
Bob O’Brien, NPD’s senior v.p.-global foodservice, noted another anomaly in the Q4/’13 data. Quick-service concepts had traffic gains in the markets that did well, while QSR visits fell in markets that were down. Chains also continued to gain share on independents in almost all markets, even those like Germany that have relatively small chain penetration.
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