Restaurant transactions slowly rebound as dine-in service returns

Nearly three-quarters, 68%, of U.S. restaurants are able to reopen dine-in service as COVID-19 restrictions are being lifted and customer transactions are on a healthier trend, according to a new report issued by the NPD Group.

In fact, transaction declines at major restaurant chains improved 3% as of the end of May, according to a Crest Performance Alerts which offers a weekly view of transactions and share trends for 72 quick service, fast casual, midscale and casual dining changes.

Not all restaurants have reopened however, specifically in hard hit COVID-19 regions such as New York and California, and those states are experiencing the steepest customer transaction dips, a -34% in New York and -27% in California for the week ending May 31 compared to a year ago, according to a press release regarding NPD data.

In other states where in-store dining is back, the declines are not as drastic. Kentucky, which resumed on premise service as of May 11, saw a -2% decline at the end of May compared to a year ago.

Quick service restaurant chain transactions, which represent the bulk of industry transactions, declined by -16% compared to year ago versus an -18% decline in week ending May 24, according to the release.

“The U.S. foodservice industry today remains solidly in the re-start phase as restaurants begin to reopen their on-premise operations,” said  David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor and author of Eating Patterns in America, in the release. “The industry will move to the recovery phase when all states reopen on-premise dining and we can begin to make a detailed assessment of how many permanent restaurant closures there are and how that will affect what the industry will look like as it re-emerges.”


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