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Drive-Thru Restaurant Traffic Down as Delivery Grows

CHICAGO — As the ultimate in dining convenience, foodservice delivery is winning visits at the expense of the restaurant drive-thru.

Over the past four years, delivery has grown by 69 million visits/orders, while drive-thru traffic fell by 128 million visits from May 2012 through May 2016, according to Delivery: A Growth Opportunity on the Horizon, a new report by The NPD Group.

When pizza delivery is taken out of the equation, growth in foodservice delivery is even greater. While pizza delivery still makes up more than 60 percent of foodservice delivery visits, traffic has declined by double digits over the last four years. Instead, consumers are ordering delivery from a variety of restaurants, including quick-service Asian and burger, full service, and fast casual, NPD said.

"If delivery fits a restaurant operator's business model and is operationally feasible, now is the time to consider adding it as an option for customers," stated Bonnie Riggs, NPD Group's restaurant industry analyst. "It's one way to stay competitive and relevant in a low growth foodservice environment. However, before moving ahead with a delivery program, it is important to understand the growth opportunity along with the potential barriers to use that might exist from the consumer perspective."

Foodservice delivery options are especially important to millennials and members of Generation Z, NPD found. These two demographic groups currently represent 51 percent of the U.S. population, making them a large target group that will drive the growth in delivery far into the future. These consumers want to eat their favorite foods when they want it, regardless of their location, and they want to order and pay for it with the click of a button.

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