QSR Declines Drive Restaurant Chain Customer Transactions Even Lower

QSR drive-thru

CHICAGO — U.S. restaurant chain customer transaction declines stabilized in the week ending April 5 at 41 percent, compared to a 42 percent drop the prior week. However, a further decrease in quick-service restaurant (QSR) transactions brought total transactions down 43 percent in the week ending April 12 compared to one year ago, reported The NPD Group.

NPD's CREST Performance Alerts, which provides a rapid weekly view of chain-specific transactions and share trends for 70 quick service, fast casual, midscale and casual dining chains, found that QSR customer transactions declined by 41 percent in the week ending April 12.

"I'm hesitant to make a big deal out of this week-over-week decline because I think some volatility during a time of unprecedented disruption is expected," said David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor and author of Eating Patterns in America. "With five million additional unemployment claims this week, we may begin to see consumers hesitant to spend at restaurants. In addition, while almost all U.S. restaurant dining rooms are closed, there is mounting evidence that some units are closing altogether.

"Although much of the business can be absorbed by other locations, especially chains, it's reasonable to conclude that there is a point at which unit closures would erode volume further," he continued. "On the other hand, we may see some lift from the coronavirus relief bill checks that have been issued."

NPD reported that full-service restaurant chain transaction declines have held at 79 percent for the last three weeks. Midscale/family dining restaurant transactions declined by 81 percent in the week ending April 12 compared to one year ago, which is the same decline as the two weeks prior. Customer transactions at casual dining restaurant chains were down 77 percent in the week, the same decline as the prior week.