A new year will bring little to no traffic growth for the total U.S. foodservice market, according to market research firm The NPD Group.
Quick-service restaurants are estimated to see a 1 percent increase in visits in 2017, after remaining flat in 2016. The modest gain is expected to offset the anticipated 2 percent decline in visits for full-service restaurants — resulting in no growth in traffic for the industry overall, according to NPD Group’s daily tracking of U.S. consumer use of restaurants and other foodservice outlets.
Other major trends that should be on the radar for restaurant developers and operators alike, according to Bonnie Riggs, NPD Group’s restaurant industry analyst, include:
- Millennials and younger will accelerate the foodservice industry’s need to be more innovative, as these cohorts are always looking for an “experience” — something new and different. Without innovation, operators will fall out of the consideration set and risk being overlooked by a large portion of the U.S. population.
- To stay relevant in this overcrowded marketplace, operators need to serve the foods people crave and be willing to customize according to consumers’ personal choices. In 2017, more restaurant operators will offer digital menu options, which will enable consumers to customize their orders.
- Mobile ordering will grow exponentially. This is convenience at its best. Look for many restaurant operators to follow suit and capitalize on this growth opportunity.
- Third-party delivery providers — like Grubhub, Amazon and DoorDash — will continue to grow. Taking advantage of the increasing popularity of delivery will provide restaurant operators with another avenue to drive traffic.