QSR Traffic Up 1% Over a Year Ago

Chains driving traffic in all levels of restaurants

quick-service-restaurant traffic

CHICAGO -- Visits to quick-service chain restaurants were up 1% in the second quarter of 2014, reports The NPD Group, a leading global information company. Independent QSR traffic was down 2% in the quarter compared to same quarter year ago.

The strength and marketing clout of major and small restaurant chains kept total restaurant-industry traffic flat instead of declining in the April/May/June quarter while visits to independent restaurants declined. Visits to major restaurant chains (those of 500 or more units) remained flat in the second calendar quarter compared to same quarter year ago, and small restaurant chain (three to 49 units) traffic increased by 2%, according to Chicago-based NPD foodservice market research.

Chains outperformed independents over the short and long term the past five years, reports NPD’s CREST research, which tracks daily how consumers use restaurants and foodservice outlets. Major restaurant chains, which currently represent 64% of total industry traffic, have increased visits 1% since the quarter ending June 2010. Traffic to small chains, which represent 11% of industry traffic, netted flat over the past five years based on quarters ending June. Independents, which now represent 25% of foodservice visits vs. 28% in 2010, saw visit losses of 2% since 2010.

Total independent restaurants outnumber chain restaurants in terms of unit count. Based on NPD’s most recent ReCount restaurant census (spring 2014) there were 351,359 independent restaurants in the United States, a 0.4% increase of the prior year census. Chain restaurant units stood at 284,135, which is up 1% compared to last year’s census.

“Independents simply don’t have the resources and marketing power, and often not the business acumen, of chains,” said Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant industry analyst. “However, many independents do succeed by providing the food quality and experience consumers are looking for and by building a loyal customer base.”