Consumer spending grew by 1.3 percent and visits to restaurants and foodservice outlets held steady in the first quarter of 2017, according to The NPD Group’s CREST foodservice market research report, which tracks daily how U.S. consumers use restaurants and foodservice outlets.
The foodservice industry, like other sectors, has areas of growth and weakness. Areas offering the most convenience to customers, like delivery and drive-thru, grew in the first quarter of the year by 2 and 3 percent respectively. Morning, the most affordable and convenient daypart, grew by 1 percent. Restaurant visits on a deal or discount increased by 2 percent. Fast-casual restaurants, included under the quick-service restaurant segment, grew visits by 3 percent mainly due to unit expansion.
Many of the weak areas of the industry have been declining since the recession, which is the case with casual-dining and midscale/family dining traffic. Visits to casual-dining restaurants fell by 4 percent and to midscale/family dining by 3 percent. Dinner traffic has also been challenged for several years now, and in the first quarter visits declined by 2 percent. Lunch traffic was flat in the reporting period but declined in previous quarters, which is a reflection of more people working at home, shopping online, and other changing behaviors.