Restaurant Traffic Flat In 2013, Reports NPD; 1% Growth Forecast For ’14

The NPD Group’s foodservice practice said in a release Dec. 17 that it expects restaurant visits will come in flat for all of 2013, though spending will rise 2%. The firm also said it expects traffic will grow by 1% in 2014 with spending up 3%. Segments expected to drive the growth include fast casual, gourmet coffee and donuts.

Visits to quick-service restaurants grew 1% for the year ending September, the research group reported. Driving growth in QSR was an 8% gain in traffic at fast-casual concepts. Breakfast traffic rose 2% in the 12-month period. All NPD CREST data are percentage change vs. the year earlier period.

In another mark of a mature foodservice market in America, the gains at QSR, which account for 79% of all foodservice traffic, were offset by declines again at full-service concepts other than fine dining/upscale lodging (only 1% of traffic). Casual-dining traffic had risen to flat in the second quarter for the first time since 2008, but fell 2% again in the 3Q. Midscale/family-dining traffic continues to be negative.

Among the demographic groups, Baby Boomers and seniors have been less affected by the economic downturn. Their per capita visits per year have been rising. But so-called Millennials (ages 18-34) and families with children cut back visits in 2013. In a sign of continuing consumer caution, weekday visits were flat, though weekend visits rose 1%, NPD data show.

“Although consumers are expected to be cautious about their spending in the coming years, our forecast for traffic and dollar growth for 2014 shows improved performance compared to 2013,” said Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant industry analyst. “Despite overall industry demand holding steady, there will always be winners…or those who can win the battle for market share.”

Further information on NPD Group research is available at

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