July 24, 2009
Restaurant traffic declined by 2.6 percent in the three months ending May 31 compared to a year ago, the sharpest decline in industry traffic since 1981, according to market research firm the NPD Group.
Still feeling the impact of rising unemployment and thrifty consumers, restaurant traffic was down 2 percent at quick service restaurants, marking seven of the last nine months with declining customer counts. Casual dining declined 4 percent and midscale restaurants were down 6 percent, NPD said in a news release.
While checks increased by 2 percent in the period, the rate of increase failed to offset the decline in traffic, yielding a 1-percent decline in consumer spending at commercial foodservice in the three-month period.
According to NPD's Consumer Reports on Restaurant Trends, the cut backs spanned all three meals. Over half of the industry's decline in the period traced to fewer supper visits from parties with kids. Visits by adults in households without children were stable, but adults from households with children have been cutting back on restaurant visits for the last three quarters.
NPD also reported the total number of restaurant units in the United States declined this spring from last spring. NPD's census showed restaurant industry units down 1 percent, or about 4,000 units, this spring compared to no growth in spring 2008.
Reprinted in part from meatingplace.com