The post-summer back to business and school as usual kept U.S. restaurant transactions flat in September compared to year ago, reports The NPD Group. The month started out with transactions up but flattened as the month went on, 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.

Transactions at quick-service restaurant chains, which represent the bulk of industry transactions, were flat in September compared to year ago. The full-service segments of casual dining and midscale/family dining chains each saw transactions decline by 2 percent in the month from same period last year. 

In August a well-publicized chicken sandwich war and summer travel helped to drive a 2 percent increase in quick-service visits, while a 3 percent decline in full service restaurant traffic kept total industry traffic flat. Consumer spending in August was supported by gains at quick-serves of 4 percent and at full-serves of 1 percent versus same period year ago, according to NPD’s ongoing foodservice market research. 

“Historically, September is a slower month for the restaurant industry and this September there wasn’t any one promotion driving transactions,” says David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor and author of Eating Patterns in America. “We’re forecasting the year will end with restaurant visits flat and dollars up by 3 percent, but forecasts aren’t set in stone. Innovative promotions, popular menu offerings, and any efforts that engage and excite restaurant consumers could change the outcome.”

Finance, News