Restaurant industry traffic drops 2% from last year: The NPD Group

Still, restaurant transactions increased 1% from two years ago when pandemic began

As the restaurant industry seeks to recover amid the challenges of inflation and supply chain challenges, its traffic is down 2% from last year. The latest update from the NPD Group, indicates total restaurant visits decreased by 2% in the first quarter of 2022, but were up 1% in comparison to 2020’s first quarter.

Restaurant spending, which does incorporate the higher cost of menu inflation, was up 4% in this latest quarter on top of a 7% increase in last year’s first quarter. What boosted the performance of first quarter 2021 were stimulus payments, the availability of COVID vaccines, and relaxed pandemic restrictions. Consequently, that momentum helped transactions in that first quarter increase 3% compared to the same period a year before. It also created a tougher comparison for this year’s first quarter.

“The comparison to last year’s gains in the first quarter and several factors in the macro-environment, including higher food and energy prices, contributed to the first quarter’s softness,” says David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor and author of “Eating Patterns in America.”

Online and physical transactions at QSRs declined by 2% in the first quarter compared to a 6% increase in traffic in the same quarter last year. The NPD Group also noted that QSRs grew spending by 2% compared to the first quarter of 2021 when spending rose by 14%.

FSRs increased traffic by 2% compared to a year ago when visits declined by 7%. Meanwhile, FSR spending was up 10% versus the same quarter last year when spending fell by 6%, according to NPD’s ongoing reporting.

In contrast, dine-in restaurant visits increased by 38% in the first quarter compared to a 45% drop last year, while off-premises through carry-out, drive-thru, and delivery declined by 9% from a 24% gain in the first quarter in the prior year.

Advertisements

With the first quarter behind us, I’m optimistic that seasonal demand and the improving on-premises trends can help get the restaurant industry’s recovery back on track.

David Portalatin, The NPD Group

Dine-in QSR visits grew by 53% in the quarter, while off-premises dropped by 8% compared to the same quarter a year ago. On the other hand, FSR grew on-premises traffic by 26% over last year when dine-in declined by 34%. Off-premises, which represented one-third of FSR visits, decreased by 24% in the first quarter compared to a 63% increase in the same quarter in the prior year (2021).

Going up against traffic gains in the first quarter of 2021, visits during the first quarter of 2022 at all restaurant dayparts were flat or decreased. Morning meal and dinner traffic were flat in this year’s first quarter compared to a year ago when the dayparts increased by 4% and 2%, respectively.

Lunch visits, which have seen their challenges, particularly as fewer employees return to worksites, declined by 4% in the latest quarter compared to a 1% increase in the first quarter of 2021. Moreover, evening (p.m.) snack traffic declined by 2% against a 12% gain in the same quarter one year ago.

Advertisements

Portalatin added, “With the first quarter behind us, I’m optimistic that seasonal demand and the improving on-premises trends can help get the restaurant industry’s recovery back on track.”

About the publisher of this restaurant news site.

Leave a Reply