New data from NPD Group is a real good news/bad news situation for restaurants. The bad news: for the week ending May 24, total major restaurant chain transactions declined 18 percent compared to the same time period last year. The good news? That’s up 25 percentage points from the biggest decline in transactions during this pandemic (-43 percent for the week ending April 12).
Of course, a big reason for that growth is that more cities and states began re-opening towards the end of May, so more people could once again actually go into a restaurant.
An NPD press release breaks the numbers down further, writing:
- Major full service chain restaurant transactions declined by -42% versus same time year ago, a +7 point improvement from the prior week’s decline of -49% from year ago.
- Transactions at quick service restaurant chains were down -17% in week ending May 24 compared to same week year ago, improving from the -20% decline in the prior week.
Another couple of interesting tid-bits from NPD’s recent data is that drive-thru, mostly at QSRs, made up almost half of all restaurant occasions, and that digital orders grew by 106 percent in April compared with last year. NPD says that digital orders now account for 20 percent of all restaurant occasions.
If you’ve been following my colleague Jenn Marston’s writing, this growth in digital orders and off-premises dining shouldn’t come as a surprise. In her excellent weekly restaurant tech newsletter this past Friday, she covered recent Black Box data that showed takeout orders are going back up. As Jenn wrote:
Presumably, people got excited about going back to restaurants instead of ordering takeout, then realized what a pain in the a$$ dine-in service is going to be for a long time to come. Guidelines vary from state to state in the U.S., but almost all of them include reduced capacity, reduced party sizes, no buffets, and in some cases a mask requirement. Add to that the trepidation most of us wear with our masks these days anytime we set foot in public, and it’s not exactly a recipe for a packed house.
As more cities and states ease shelter in place order, and summer gets into full swing, we’ll move from guessing about how consumers will react to restaurants’ re-opening and into hard numbers around what they are actually doing. Data like this from NPD helps chart those movements.