U.S. consumers visited restaurants this July at the same pace they did last July and consumer spending was up three percent compared to year ago, reports The NPD Group. Total U.S. traffic volume for commercial restaurants in the year ending June was 61 billion visits.

Industry bright spots this summer include quick service restaurants traffic gains and continued visit growth to fast casual restaurants, although increases are not as strong as in previous years, according to NPD’s ongoing foodservice market research. Digital orders, which include internet/mobile app and text message orders for carry out and delivery, are growing rapidly but still represent a small amount of traffic share. On premise dining is also realizing visit gains this summer. 

NPD’s SalesTrack Weekly, which is a national weekly same-store sales pulse of 60 participating brands representing over 113,000 quick service and full -ervice locations, showed healthy dollar growth in July, and the company’s CREST Performance Alerts, which provides a rapid weekly view of chain-specific transactions and share trends for 73 quick service, fast casual, midscale chains, and casual dining chains, tracked flat to positive gains throughout the month.

Visit declines in the full-service restaurant segment continue to prevent the industry from growing. In five years, the midscale/family dining full-service category has lost 500 million visits. The casual dining full service category has been holding steady as of late after four years of declines.

“The state of the restaurant industry held steady in July compared to last year, consistent with our long held view on the market outlook,” says David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor and author of Eating Patterns in America. “The long-term fundamentals of the market tell us to expect relatively flat traffic trends in the near term, but there are many pockets of growth, particularly among QSR and fast casual concepts.”    

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