The mild winter experienced by much of the country this year translated to a strong first quarter for restaurants, leading analysts to be optimistic about economic recovery in the industry. But according to market research firm NPD, the Spring quarter has reversed that trend and they are now predicting that things will be flat for the rest of 2012 and through 2013.
Quick service/fast food restaurants — which comprise 78 percent of industry traffic — had a two percent visit gain in the quarter (March, April, May), according to NPD but visits to midscale/family dining and casual dining segments were down three and two percent respectively.
While traffic may be down, check averages are up slightly. “Consumers may not be flocking to restaurants in droves, but they are going out, that’s good news,” says Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant industry analyst. “We’re also seeing that when they do dine out, they are trying new offerings, spending a little more and not relying totally on deals. However, their continuing cost-consciousness, still relatively high unemployment, and economic uncertainty will keep the industry flat.”