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CHICAGO — Although consumer traffic overall to U.S. restaurants and foodservice outlets was flat during the third quarter of 2014, the quick-service restaurant (QSR) categories of fast-casual, coffee/doughnut/bagel and Mexican saw gains, according to The NPD Group.
Newly released NPD data shows that fast-casual restaurants posted an 8-percent quarterly gain in traffic across all dayparts compared to the same period one year ago. Visits to Mexican quick-service and coffee/doughnut/bagel concepts grew by 5 percent each.
Meanwhile, the QSR categories of hamburger, sandwich and Asian had a less successful third quarter. Hamburger quick-service traffic, which represents the largest share of quick-service visits at 23 percent, fell by 3 percent this year compared to the third quarter of 2013. Visits to sandwich concepts and Asian QSRs both declined by 1 percent.
Despite the flatness in total industry traffic during the quarter, consumer spending increased by 3 percent due to average check gains.
Check and dollar gains are in line with food-away-from-home inflation, according to NPD, while dealing/discounts still support consumer traffic. Third-quarter visits on a deal were up 4 percent compared to a drop in non-deal visits.
"Although total traffic is flat, the visit growth in the fast-casual, coffee/doughnut/bagel and Mexican QSR shows that consumers still have an interest in going out to restaurants," said Bonnie Riggs, restaurant industry analyst for the Chicago-based market researcher. "Those restaurant concepts that are meeting the needs of today's foodservice consumers will win their visits."