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    U.S. Foodservice Visits Hit Six-Year High

    Traffic contributes to 3-percent rise in consumer spending.

    CHICAGO — Consumer spending at U.S. restaurants and foodservice outlets rose 3 percent in the year ended May 2015 due to higher average checks and foodservice traffic reaching its highest level in six years, reported The NPD Group.

    Restaurant and foodservice outlet visits hit the 61.1-billion mark in the year ended in May, compared to 60.6 billion visits in the year ended May 2010, according to CREST, NPD's ongoing foodservice tracker. While industry traffic volume is higher than it was six years ago, declining traffic at quick-service hamburger chains, midscale/family dining outlets and independent restaurants has hindered traffic growth.

    Over a five-year period, traffic declined by 3 percent at quick-service hamburger chain restaurants and midscale/family dining restaurants (including hotel midscale restaurants), and by 2 percent at independent restaurants.

    Total foodservice outlet and restaurant visits were flat in the year ended May 2015 compared to one year ago. Quick-service restaurants, including retail and fast-casual outlets, increased traffic by 1 percent, while casual dining traffic held stable, marking a slight improvement from the declines it saw over the prior five years.

    Higher average eater checks were the primary driver of the 3-percent increase in overall consumer spending during the year ended May 2015 vs. a year ago.

    Morning meal/breakfast continued to grow at the fastest pace among all meal dayparts with a 4-percent increase in visits at all restaurants and foodservice outlets. Quick-service restaurants saw most of their visit gains at breakfast. While overall visits declined at midscale/family dining restaurants, breakfast traffic held steady for this segment. 

    Lunch and dinner visits were flat for the total industry, and traffic during the p.m. snack daypart fell 2 percent.

    "There are many pockets of growth in the foodservice industry right now, but the areas that have been problematic for several years now, like the midscale and independent restaurant segments, are preventing real growth in the industry," stated Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant industry analyst. "It makes sense that we will be seeing more chain and independent operators leverage the growth areas, like breakfast, in the coming months."

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