Quick-service restaurant chains, which represent the bulk of industry transactions, had four consecutive weeks of transaction increases in the retail month of December (December 1 through January 5) and were the primary contributor to the total industry gains in the month, reports The NPD Group. 

Casual-dining chains, on the other hand, began the month stable but saw transaction declines in the last three weeks of the month. Midscale/family dining chains, despite a drop in the last week, finished the month flat, according to NPD’s CREST Performance Alerts, which provides a rapid weekly view of chain-specific transactions and share trends for 73 quick service, fast casual, midscale, and casual dining chains.

Total restaurant industry transactions were up 3 percent in December driven by the 3 percent gain in quick-serve transactions. Casual dining transactions were down 2 percent with the steepest decline, negative 5 percent, in the last week ending January 5. Midscale/family dining transactions were flat to up 3 percent the first four weeks in the month and a 2 percent decline in the last week resulted in no gains for the month, reports NPD.

“Quick-service restaurants served the need for convenience and speed during the busy holiday season. Seasonal limited time offers and deals also helped to drive transaction increases,” says  David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor and author of Eating Patterns in America. “Family dining benefited from holiday vacations between Christmas and New Year’s, with their biggest boost in transactions that week. Casual dining, which has been challenged for a while, still struggled to drive transactions in December despite aggressive dealing and promotion.”

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