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U.S. Restaurant Transactions Decline by More Than 40% for Second Consecutive Week


CHICAGO — The U.S. restaurant industry could be on the brink of bottoming out, new findings from NPD Group show.

The apparent "bottom" is likely due to the full effect of on-premise dining closures throughout the country and the industry's collective ability to convert to off-premise modes, like carry-out, delivery and drive-thru, according to NPD.

U.S. restaurant customer transactions declined by 41 percent in the week ending April 5 vs. a year ago, following a 42-percent decline in the prior week ending March 29.

"The 41 percent decline in restaurant transactions is similar to last week and may indicate a bottom. We also need to be aware that further erosion could occur if consumers' economic situations worsen," said David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor and author of Eating Patterns in America. "To date, many consumers have continued to buy restaurant meals through delivery, takeout, and drive-thru to the degree allowed by the restrictive environment; but with rising unemployment, payroll reductions, and temporary furloughs, consumers may begin to think differently about their food budgets overall."

Results of 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 — also found that:

  • Quick service restaurants, which historically have more off-premise business than full service restaurants, experienced lower transaction declines of 38 percent in the week than total industry.
  • Full service restaurants, which were already challenged prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, experienced transaction declines of 79 percent in the week ending Aril 5 vs. the same week year ago.

Chicago-based NPD offers data, industry expertise and prescriptive analytics to help its clients grow their businesses in a changing world.

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