Industry data show the restaurant world is still locked in a battle for market share.Traffic accelerated by 300 million visits in 2015, according to the market research company NPD Group. That’s a healthy increase from 2014 when restaurant traffic increased by 100 million visits, but it’s still down from pre-recession days.
“We’re almost there, but we haven’t totally recovered the 2.2 billion visits we lost since the time of the recession,” said Bonnie Riggs, the restaurant analyst at NPD Group. “Overall, the market is not growing very strongly.”
The quick-service portion of the industry including traditional QSR, fast-casual and retail locations is taking the most share. The segment saw a 1 percent traffic increase driven by deep discounts and high value perception. The segment now accounts for the vast majority (79 percent) of all industry visits.
Midscale and family dining visits declined for another year, sinking 3 percent. Casual dining visits shrank 2 percent, accelerating from the 1 percent decline in 2014. Fine dining slumped as well, sinking by 1 percent—the first yearly traffic decline in the last five years.
Less traffic sales meant a lot of closures in trophy markets. New York saw a 3 percent decline in restaurants or 1,400 closures; Chicago saw a 1 percent decline or 255 restaurants. Growing markets include Los Angeles with a 1 percent location increase and both Dallas and Houston saw a 2 percent increase.
Overall, the number of restaurants declined by 0.6 percent to 629,488, driven down by the large number of mostly independent closures.
According to the inaugural McKinsey & Company consumer sentiment survey, consumers surveyed are saving their money but will splurge when they see high value.