Higher Menu Prices Drive Sixth Consecutive Quarter Of Restaurant Traffic Declines: NPD Group

By Tonya Garcia Markets MarketWatch Pulse

Restaurants recorded their sixth consecutive quarter of traffic declines, according to the latest data from The NPD Group, a market information organization, the first time since the recession of 2008-2009 that the industry has seen no traffic growth in that period. Family dining traffic fell 4% year-over-year, while casual dining dropped 3%. Visits to quick-service restaurants, the largest segment for industry traffic, was flat, with "bright spots" in quick-service hamburger and fast-casual restaurants. Breakfast visits were up 1%, and foodservice delivery was up 2%. Average check value rose 2.6%, which NPD attributes to higher menu prices. That's the largest increase in a few years. "No doubt, the rising cost of a restaurant meal is weighing heavily on industry traffic performance," said Bonnie Riggs, NPD Group restaurant industry analyst, in a statement. The PowerShares Dynamic Food & Beverage Portfolio is down 3.4% for the year so far while the S&P 500 index is up 9.2% for the period.

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