The spikes in COVID-19 cases in states that have reopened restaurant dine-in services haven’t yet impacted the continuing improvement in major restaurant chain transaction declines as more states reopen, reports The NPD Group.  Arizona, California, and Florida, three states that reported an uptick in COVID-19 cases, showed several points of improvement in restaurant chain customer transaction declines at full service restaurants — the restaurant segment most affected by dine-in closures — in week ending June 14 compared to the previous week, according to CREST Performance Alerts, which provides a rapid weekly view of chain-specific transactions and share trends for 72 quick service, fast casual, midscale, and casual dining chains.   

“The only major variable in play with a case surge at the moment would be erosion in consumer willingness to dine out,” says David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor and author of Eating Patterns in America. “There are three main variables that will influence continued restaurant recovery: reopening of on-premise dining and expanding allowed capacity; the willingness of consumers to dine out and feel safe and confident in doing so; and the economic well-being of the consumer. Thus far, the evidence in restaurant transactional improvement confirms that dining rooms are opening, and there is consumer demand to fill opened restaurants.”

For the week ending June 14 total major restaurant chain transactions are down 12 percent versus the same week a year ago, which is 1 percent below the previous week but the ninth consecutive improvement year-over-year, reports NPD. Quick service restaurants still managed to improve slightly to negative 11 percent versus year ago compared to negative 13 percent the previous week. As dining rooms reopen, full service restaurant chains continue to have the strongest improvement in customer transaction declines, having a week-over-week gain of 12 percent in week ending June 14, moving up +6 points on a year-over-year basis to negative 26 percent versus year ago.

Restaurant trends for the week ending June 14 were aided by the fact that 74 percent of restaurant units are in geographies where some level of on-premise dining is now permitted.  Next week, week ending June 21, that number should rise to 77 percent and based on state and local reopening plans at present, 85 percent of restaurants will be permitted to reopen dine-in services by mid-July. Keeping in mind the numbers reflect the percentage of restaurant units that can open and not the number of actual units that will open.

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