According to The NPD Group, while customer transactions at major US restaurant chains declined by 21% in the week ending May 17 compared to same period last year, it was a slight gain from last week’s 23%  decline and the fifth consecutive week of improvement.

Continued improvement in restaurant chain transaction declines was aided by adding 93,000 restaurant units in states where restrictions to on-premise dining were lifted from the week ending May 10 to the week ending May 17.

The effect of restaurant openings is apparent when comparing states with and without restrictions. Full-service restaurants in states where on-premise dining was permitted to reopen as of May 10 improved 13 percentage points in the week ending May 17. Full-service restaurants in open states have a 22-percentage-point performance advantage over the remainder of the country.

“The reopening of restaurant dine-in services across the country will certainly continue to help drive improvements, but it’s important to keep in mind that restaurant on-premise dining operations are not serving to full capacity because of safety protocols,” says David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor and author of Eating Patterns in America. “Equally important to the industry’s recovery is the consumer’s comfort level with dining in at a restaurant now.”