Foodservice Equipment Reports

Restaurant Traffic May Finally Rise In 2015, Says The NPD Group

Customer traffic has been the problem for restaurant operators during and since the Great Recession. Consumers just are not eating out as often as they did in the late 1990s and mid-2000s. The NPD Group, which tracks consumer restaurant behavior through its flagship information service CREST as well as other research studies, has reported only one year of traffic gains since 2008. In 2012, restaurant visits on a national level rose 1%. The year just ended saw flat visits overall once again, NPD said. Per capita visits have fallen to 190 visits per year from a high of 208 in 2007 and 2008.

In that context, it’s important to note that NPD forecasts a traffic gain of 1% for 2015, according to a Dec. 15, 2014, release that urged operators to pay attention to changing consumer dynamics. Improved consumer confidence and positive economic indicators, including the dramatic drop in gasoline prices, should drive the increase.

But understanding the customer and their wants and needs remains the key for growing traffic and sales. “The world and foodservice-related enterprises like restaurants, manufacturers and food retailers are changing at an ever-increasing pace,” says Bonnie Riggs, NPD’s restaurant industry analyst. “But just as many things change, the fundamental business principle of knowing your customer and keeping them happy remains the same. In this fast-paced world, consumer must-haves and wants change steadily, and operators and their suppliers must stay in tune with these changes in order to drive their businesses forward.”

For more information on The NPD Group research, go to npd.com.