Foodservice customer traffic in 2022 flat compared to 2021: NPD

Convenience-store foodservice traffic a bright spot within overall industry

US commercial foodservice customer traffic, both to restaurants and other foodservice outlets, ended 2022 flat versus last year. This data point portends a more positive outlook for 2023, according to research from The NPD Group. With regard to spending (sales), that was up 4% due to higher prices.

In retail foodservice, convenience-store foodservice traffic saw improved performance. The results are a bright spot within foodservice. Consequently, convenience store visits for prepared food and drink were up 2% in 2022 from the previous year. However, the largest category of foodservice visits—restaurant traffic—decreased 1% in the 12 months that ended in December, compared to one year ago.

Visits to quick service restaurants (QSRs), which account for 82% of total restaurant traffic, were flat in 2022 versus prior year.

According to The NPD Group’s research, the morning meal has also been a bright spot for foodservice in the past two years. And both restaurants and retail foodservice have contributed to the growth. The combined traffic for breakfast and a.m. snack period traffic to restaurants and retail foodservice outlets rose by 2% in 2022 versus 2021, which had already experience a double-digit gain.

Restaurant morning meal visits were up 2% in the 12 months that ended in December compared to 2021, which also saw a double-digit increase. Traffic at the morning meal in retail foodservice, most of which were to convenience stores, was up 4% last year, from 2021, which saw a 3% gain from the prior year.


With significant impact, technology-enabled ordering has propelled the adoption of digital orders for carry-out. The popularity of digital ordering buttresses the growth of carryout business, which has continued past the height of the pandemic. In the past three years, total restaurant digital orders for carryout increased by 115%, notes The NPD Group. Plus, in the 12 months that ended in December, digital carryout orders grew by 4% compared to 2021. QSR digital carryout orders increased by 9% in 2022, compared to the prior year. Over the past three years, that restaurant segment’s orders grew by a substantial 108%.

Broadline foodservice distributors increased case shipments to commercial and non-commercial foodservice outlets by 3%, and dollars shipped increased by 17% in the 12 months that ended in December compared to a year ago.

Meanwhile, commercial case shipments to restaurants and convenience stores were flat, and dollars shipped were up 13% compared to 2021. Similarly, non-commercial broadline case shipments grew by 11% last year compared to 2021, with business & industry, education, lodging, and casinos, and recreation representing growth areas.


David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor and author of “Eating Patterns in America,” commented, “Looking forward to 2023, we anticipate improvements in supply chain disruptions, inflation deceleration, and increased consumer use of foodservice. And while we expect challenges in 2023, we believe the US foodservice industry will continue down the path of recovery this year, although growth will be modest.”

Data presented here was released in a statement from The NPD Group, which recently merged with Information Resources, Inc. (IRI).


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