Total consumer traffic to U.S. restaurants and foodservice outlets was flat in the quarter ending September 2014, but the quick-service restaurant categories of fast casual, coffee/doughnut/bagel, and Mexican posted visit gains, reports The NPD Group, a global information company. Fast casual restaurants posted an 8 percent gain in traffic across all dayparts compared to same quarter year ago. Visits to Mexican quick service and coffee/donut/bagel concepts grew by 5 percent, according to NPD’s foodservice market research.
The hamburger, sandwich, and Asian quick-service restaurant categories didn’t fare as well in the third quarter. Hamburger quick-service traffic, which represents the largest share of quick-service visits at 23 percent, declined by 3 percent compared to same quarter year ago. Visits to both sandwich concepts and Asian quick-serve restaurants were down 1 percent.
Although total industry traffic was flat in the quarter, consumer spending rose 3 percent in the July/August/September quarter due to average eater check gains. Check and dollar gains are in line with food away-from-home inflation. Dealing/discounts are still supporting traffic with visits on a deal up 4 percent compared to a decline in non-deal visits.
“Although total traffic is flat, the visit growth in the fast-casual, coffee/doughnut/bagel, and Mexican [quick-service space] shows that consumers still have an interest in going out to restaurants,” says Bonnie Riggs, restaurant industry analyst. “Those restaurant concepts that are meeting the needs of today’s foodservice consumers will win their visits.”