QSRs drive decline in restaurant transactions

CHICAGO — Total customer transactions at major US restaurant chains declined 14% year-over-year in the week ended July 12, down from -11% the week before, according to The NPD Group.

The decline was driven by QSR transactions, which decelerated 4 points to -13% year-over-year, while transactions at full-service restaurants improved 3 points to -26%. The numbers represented a reversal from the previous week, when QSRs fueled an improvement in declines.

David Portalatin, NPD food industry adviser, attributed the improvement in QSR transactions during the week ended July 5 to off-premises models.

“The flip in declines this week from quick-service restaurants to full-service restaurants is a reminder that the world is unpredictable today and we should expect twists and turns on the bumpy road to recovery,” he said. “Still, the pre-COVID trend that favored quick-service restaurants and the segment’s expertise in offering off-premises services, like drive-thru and delivery, has accelerated during the pandemic and will continue to do so in the long term.”

The estimated percentage of restaurants permitted to have on-premises dining declined to 82% from 90% in the prior week, according to NPD’s restaurant census ReCount. Much of the change was in California, where restaurants in most counties reclosed for in-store dining in early July. As a result, full-service transactions in the state declined 6 points to -51% year-over-year in the week ended July 12, the lowest percentage of any state. Restaurants statewide were ordered to close their dining rooms July 13.

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