Foodservice Equipment Reports

Restaurant Traffic Fell In Third Quarter, NPD Reports

After several years of slow or no growth, restaurant traffic finally dropped into negative territory in the third quarter 2016, compared to the same quarter in 2015. According to the latest data from The NPD Group, visits to quick-service restaurants, which represent 80% of all visits and includes fast-casual and coffee concepts, declined for the first time in five years; QSRs posted a 1% decline in traffic in the quarter.

“Over the past six months restaurant industry traffic growth has come to a standstill, and quick-service restaurants, which have been the traffic growth drivers, are now experiencing a slowdown in visits,” said Bonnie Riggs, NPD’s restaurant industry analyst.

Full-service concepts other than fine dining had another tough quarter. Midscale concepts saw traffic fall 2% while visits to casual dining were off 3%. Fine dining traffic rose 2%, but with less than 2% of total visits, the segment doesn’t drive much overall traffic.

Riggs, who recently authored a report entitled Losing Our Appetites for Restaurants, said there are multiple reasons why consumers have pulled back on visiting restaurants and chief among them is cost. Rising healthcare and student debt costs have undercut consumers’ disposable income. Riggs said a survey of panelists participating in NPD’s receipt mining service “Checkout Tracking” found 75% of those who have decreased  their visits to restaurants say they watch how they spend their money on most or all purchases. A high percentage of these respondents think that restaurant prices are too high. Riggs noted the cost of an average restaurant meal has risen 21% over the past decade and the price gap between food at home and away from home is widening. NPD reports 82% of meals are now consumed at home.


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