Customer transactions at U.S. restaurant chains were up in January, a benefit of milder weather compared to a year ago when extreme weather conditions, including a polar vortex and above average precipitation, hit many areas of the U.S. For the retail weeks ending January 6 through February 2, total restaurant transactions increased by 2 percent over same time last year and quick-service restaurant chains were the primary contributor to these gains, 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.
Quick-serve chains, which represent the bulk of industry transactions, grew transactions by 2 percent in January following four consecutive weeks of gains compared to the declines experienced last January. The full-service restaurant segment, which includes casual dining and midscale/family dining chains, didn’t fare as well as quick service, and experienced transaction declines throughout the month. Customer transactions at casual dining restaurants declined by 4 percent and midscale/family dining transactions decreased by 2 percent, reports NPD.
“January is historically one of the toughest months for U.S. restaurants and bad weather is usually a contributor,” says David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor and author of Eating Patterns in America. “This year, however, the month’s milder weather compared to the extreme weather last year drove [quick-service] transaction gains, which kept total industry transactions up.”