Restaurant transactions are improving — for some. Today, the NPD Group said customer transactions at major U.S. restaurant chains saw a slight uptick for the week ending May 31. Transactions at these chains declined by 18 percent compared to the same period one year ago. That’s a 3 percent week-over-week improvement.
NPD has been providing regular updates on restaurant transactions for a number of weeks now as dining rooms slowly reopen and the restaurant industry as a whole continues to grapple with the unprecedented disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Other notable numbers from this latest report include:
- Restaurants in states where dining rooms are still closed had the steepest declines [—DECLINES OF WHAT?—]. For New York and California, that was negative 34 and negative 27 percent, respectively.
- By contrast, transactions in Kentucky, which was allowed to reopen on May 11, saw a 2 percent decline.
- Full-service restaurant chains saw a negative 37 percent decline, which is a 15 percent increase from the prior week.
- QSR chains saw a 16 percent decline in transactions versus 18 percent in the previous week.
David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor noted in the release that the foodservice industry is “solidly in the re-start phase,” and that it will only be in a true recovery phase when all states reopen their dining rooms. Only then can we start to make “a detailed assessment of how many permanent restaurant closures there are and how that will affect what the industry will look like as it re-emerges.”
And while we may not know exactly what the future restaurant industry looks like, one thing we can count on is more off-premises orders. Pretty much everyone, from family sit-down chains to fine-dining restaurants, are encouraged to continue offering to-go options to customers. Some chains are even launching to-go-focused concepts, while others are turning to the ghost kitchen concept to fulfill more delivery orders.
How big a role off-premises will play remains to be seen, and we likely won’t have a clear idea of that until more states reopen dining rooms. For now, delivery, ghost kitchens, virtual restaurant concepts, and other off-premises strategies have yet to prove themselves as real lifelines for businesses.