CHICAGO — Quick-service restaurants (QSRs) are expected to be the saving grace of the restaurant industry this year, making up the difference caused by an anticipated decline in traffic at full-service restaurants.
Still, restaurant industry traffic overall is more than likely to remain stalled in the year ahead, according to The NPD Group, a global information company.
Full-service restaurants are expected to see a 2-percent decline in traffic, while QSRs, which had flat growth in 2016, are expected to see a 1-percent increase in traffic this year. As in 2016, the restaurant industry as a whole is anticipated to have a no-growth year in 2017.
Bonnie Riggs, NPD's restaurant industry analyst, believes that this outlook incentivizes innovative change in the restaurant industry. In order to break the pattern of stagnation, Riggs suggests restaurant operators make a point of setting their businesses apart from the herd.
How does a restaurant set itself apart? According to Riggs, there are six major trends that operators should consider:
- Targeting millennials and Gen Zs;
- Allowing for customization;
- Making dining outside the home worth consumers’ while;
- Embracing technology in the form of mobile ordering;
- Partnering with third-party delivery services; and
- Offering loyalty programs.
"Restaurant operators are in a position to alter the current forecast, but will need to differentiate themselves from the competition," Riggs stated. "In the year ahead, it will be critical for them to stay relevant in consumers’ minds, focusing on innovative products, unique promotions, competitive pricing, stating the benefits of eating at restaurants vs. home, and delivering an enjoyable experience."