Restaurant traffic flat in third quarter

by Keith Nunes
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CHICAGO – Traffic to U.S. restaurants and food service outlets was flat during the third quarter of 2014, according to The NPD Group. Within the research firm’s quarterly data is a profile of the winning categories and losing categories during the quarter.

For example, the quick service restaurant categories of fast casual, coffee/donut/bagel, and Mexican posted visit gains during the quarter while hamburger, sandwich and Asian quick service restaurant categories saw traffic decline.

Consumer spending rose 3% in the July/August/September quarter, NPD said, due to average eater check gains. Check and dollar gains are in line with food away-from-home inflation. The market research firm also said dealing/discounts are still supporting traffic with visits on a deal up 4% compared to a decline in non-deal visits.

“Although total traffic is flat, the visit growth in the fast casual, coffee/donut/bagel, and Mexican Q.S.R. shows that consumers still have an interest in going out to restaurants,” said Bonnie Riggs, restaurant industry analyst. “Those restaurant concepts that are meeting the needs of today’s food service consumers will win their visits.”
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