Foodservice Equipment Reports

Second Quarter Traffic Gains Anemic In Most Markets-- Except China And Canada

Restaurant customer traffic increased in the second quarter 2012, if only slightly, in most of the 10 markets The NPD Group surveys. Still, except for China and Canada, most countries saw anemic gains at best. Traffic in the U.S. market rose less than 1%, with all of the gains going to large quick-service concepts. Independents and small chains posted traffic increases in China, Canada and France, but such operators lost visitors in the other seven markets.

Guy Fielding, NPD’s foodservice director in the United Kingdom, blamed weak consumer confidence and the quarter’s wet, cold weather for the weak performance in the U.K., where combined sales and traffic managed only a 0.6% increase in the period ended June. Similar weather was a factor, along with continuing recession and/or debt worries, in the rest of Europe. Traffic fell in France and Spain.

On the other side of the world, traffic increased 13% in China, and with check average gains, posted a 25.5% overall spending increase vs. the second quarter last year. “Although China’s GDP growth is slowing down compared to last year, it is still keeping at a relatively high level,” said Christina Ma, NPD foodservice director in China. “And inflation continues to go down from last summer, all of which encourages Chinese consumers to increase their use of commercial foodservice.” Ma noted that Chinese consumers are buying combo meals and using other deals in light of increasing food costs.

The strong traffic gain in Canada, more than 4%, was the second strong quarter in a row. With average check gains, overall spending rose 5.1% in the quarter.

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