Restaurant traffic in the United States is increasing


CHICAGO — Traffic in U.S. restaurants improved in February after stagnating in January due to the omicron variant, according to data from the NPD Group.

Online and physical visits were up 2% for the month and consumer spending was up 8% from February 2021. Total restaurant traffic was down 8% from pre-pandemic levels in February 2020 .

“February started with soft visits as omicron suppressed consumer sentiment for restaurant dining,” said David Portalatin, food industry adviser at The NPD Group. “On the other hand, the second half of February benefited from comparisons with last year’s historic winter frost.”

Online and physical visits to quick-service restaurants improved 1% from a 7% decline in February 2021. Traffic to full-service restaurants increased 6% from a 22% decline it a year ago.

NPD Group found the morning daytime portion recovered in February, with industry-wide breakfast traffic up 5% in the month, compared with a 12% decline Last year. Online and physical breakfast orders at quick service restaurants, which account for 88% of total morning dining traffic, rose 6% from an 11% decline a year ago. Total restaurant dining traffic improved 6% from a 12% decline last February.

“Looking forward, we should see some seasonal demand start to warm up in March and COVID concerns diminish,” Portalatin said. “The wild card will be how consumers react to ongoing inflation, including over $4 per gallon of gasoline.”


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