The U.S. restaurant recovery got back on track in February after January declines, reports The NPD Group. Online and physical restaurant traffic was up 2%, and consumer spending was up 8% in February compared to a year ago. Total restaurant visits in the month were down 8% from the pre-pandemic level in February 2020, according to NPD’s continual tracking of the U.S. foodservice industry.

Quick service restaurant traffic improved by 1% in February compared to a 7% decline in February 2021. This February, online and physical visits to full-service restaurants increased by 6%, over a 22% decline the same month last year. Both segments were down from the pre-pandemic level in February 2020.

Restaurant morning meal continued to recover visits in February with a 5% increase compared to a 12% decline in February 2021. Quick service morning meal online and physical traffic, representing 88% of total industry morning meal visits, increased by 6% this February compared to an 11% decline last February. Total restaurant dinner traffic improved by 6% compared to a 12% decline the same month a year ago.  

“February began with visits soft as omicron suppressed consumer sentiment for dining out. On the other hand, the back half of February benefitted from comparisons to last year’s historic winter deep freeze,” says David Portalatin, NPD Food Industry Advisor and author of Eating Patterns in America. “Looking ahead, we should see some seasonal demand start to heat up in March and COVID-related concerns diminishing. The wild card will be how consumers respond to ongoing inflation, including $4-plus per gallon gasoline.”

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