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QSRs Continue to Drive Customer Visits

The quick-service category continues to provide the restaurant’s only positive growth in customer traffic, according to new data from NPD Group. It finds that for the July-August-September quarter of 2012, net overall restaurant visits were flat.

Source: The NPD Group

QSRs, however, continue to show traffic gains, up 1% in Q3. That’s the fourth consecutive quarter of customer growth for QSRs, NPD finds. QSR coffee/donut/bagel, fast casual, retail, and Mexican chain concepts all did well. Customer visits for the QSR/burger category, however, were flat in Q3 after several quarters of improvement.

Midscale restaurants (such as Denny’s) showed a 2% decline in customer traffic in Q3. That’s an improvement from Q2 when its customer traffic was down 3%. Midscale restaurants have experienced net customer declines for at least the past nine quarters, according to NPD.

Casual-dining customer visits were down 3% in Q3 following two quarters of -2% declines. Casual dining also has shown negative traffic growth for at least the last nine quarters.

Dinner was the industry’s weakest daypart: In no segment did it show a gain in customer visits. QSRs saw gains at breakfast, lunch and afternoon snacks. NPD says its report, “A Look at Influencers of Restaurant Visits,” finds that the price disparity between casual and QSR dining coupled with the effects of high unemployment and dining cutbacks by young adults have hurt casual-dining dinner sales.

For full-year 2012, NPD forecasts no net change in overall customer visits versus 2011, with industry spending up 2%.

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