Visits to US restaurants and other foodservice outlets rose by 1% in the first quarter (January, February, and March) of 2012 compared with the first quarter of 2011, the strongest growth since spring 2008, according to NPD Group.
However, traffic growth was confined to the quick service restaurant and fine dining/upscale hotel segments, said the researcher.
“Visits to quick service restaurants increased by 2% over same quarter last year, and major quick service chains had the strongest traffic growth with a 3% increase in traffic.
“Fine dining/upscale hotel restaurants generated a 6% increase in traffic.”
Traffic down in midscale/family dining segment
However, the midscale/family dining segment continued to struggle with visits down by 3% in the quarter. Visits to casual dining restaurants were also down 2%, said NPD Group restaurant industry analyst Bonnie Riggs.
“Thanks to unusually mild weather, winter 2012 was a bright spot for the foodservice industry; however, the economic environment will continue to be a challenge for the sector.
“We forecast a slowdown in traffic growth for the balance of 2012 as the country continues its slow economic recovery. “