With the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic spreading throughout the country, more people working from home, and social distancing guidance in place, U.S. restaurant customer transactions declined by 8 percent in the week ending March 15 compared to year ago, reports The NPD Group.  In the prior week ending March 8, the quick service restaurant chain “breakfast wars” helped to drive a 4 percent increase in total U.S. restaurant customer transactions compared to same period year ago, according to NPD’s CREST Performance Alerts, which provides a rapid weekly view of chain-specific transactions and share trends for 70 quick service, fast casual, midscale, and casual dining chains.

Quick-service restaurant chain customer transactions, which represent the bulk of U.S. restaurant transactions, declined by 7 percent in the week. The already challenged full service segments of casual dining and midscale/family dining realized transaction declines of negative 22 and 24 percent, respectively.

“The U.S. restaurant industry situation remains very fluid and the most recent week read of customer transactions reflect performance before mandated on-premise restaurant closures were implemented in multiple states,” says David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor and author of Eating Patterns in America. “Some of the areas I’ll be watching closely in the coming weeks are delivery capacity, the pizza category, and third-party delivery platforms, like DoorDash, Grubhub, and Uber Eats.”

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