Three Menu Items that Drove QSR Traffic in 2013

Visits to the restaurant channel grew 1% for the year

Published in CSP Daily News

CHICAGO -- Three key menu items are being credited with driving most of the traffic growth at quick-service restaurants in 2013: gourmet coffee, doughnuts and bagels.

Visits to quick-service restaurants (QSRs) overall, which were up 1 percent in the year ending September compared to a year ago, was a growth area for the industry in 2013, according to the NPD Group’s CREST foodservice market research. Gourmet coffee, donut, and bagel QSR restaurants drove much of the visit growth at QSR, according to the report.

QSR fast casual continued its growth trend this year with traffic up 8% in the year ending September 2013 compared to same period year ago.  Breakfast was the strongest day-part for restaurants with visits increasing by 2% in the period.

Overall, consumers didn’t increase their visits to restaurants in 2013, but when they did visit, they spent more, according to NPD, a leading global information company. NPD’s continual foodservice tracking shows overall restaurant traffic flat for the bulk of the year compared to last year, and forecasts the year will end the same. Consumer spending, on the other hand, was up 2% over a year ago driven by growth in average check size.

An area offsetting industry growth in 2013 is the ongoing struggle of full-service restaurants, casual dining and midscale/family dining, which, despite aggressive dealing, haven’t realized annual visit gains in several years. Weekday visits to all restaurants was another area lacking visit increases this year.

While visits were up 1% on the weekends, weekday traffic was flat in the year ending September vs. a year ago. Millennials and families with kids were two groups that cutback on their visits to restaurants in 2013. For example, annual per capita visits of consumers ages 25-34 went from 251 in 2008 to 207 in 2013. Visits by families with kids declined by 1% in the year ending September 2013 tracking period.

Chicago-based NPD forecasts a better year for the foodservice industry in 2014 with visits up 1% and spending gain of 3% by the end of next year. The QSR restaurant segment, particularly the QSR categories of gourmet coffee, doughnut and fast casual, will continue to do well in 2014.

“Although consumers are expected to be cautious about their spending in the coming years, our forecast for traffic and dollar growth for 2014 shows improved performance compared to 2013,” said Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant industry analyst. “Despite overall industry demand holding steady, there will always be winners … or those who can win the battle for market share.”

coffee, hot & cold food, QSR