The US restaurant industry made significant strides in its recovery from the impact of COVID restrictions and pandemic-related closures, according to The NPD Group. 

Although still down from pre-pandemic counts, the number of restaurants in the US grew by 18,000 locations, according to NPD’s fall 2022 restaurant census, which includes restaurants open as of September 30, 2022. Total foodservice traffic, restaurants and retail foodservice combined, was up 2 percent, and restaurant visits were up 3 percent in January over visit losses from last year. Foodservice consumer spending rose 7 percent in the month compared to a year ago.   

In January, dine-in visits at restaurants were up 24 percent over a gain of 41 percent in January 2022. Off-premises, primarily drive-thru and delivery, was a default beneficiary of pandemic restrictions, and visits for both order modes remain up, 9 percent and 88 percent, respectively, versus three years ago. Traffic at morning meal, including breakfast and morning snack periods, has fully recovered from pandemic declines. Restaurant visits at breakfast and morning snack increased in January by 13 percent compared to a year ago, and are up 3 percent versus three years ago.

“Although the pandemic is still informing the foodservice industry narrative, there are areas of meaningful growth and recovery,” says David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor and author of Eating Patterns in America.  “Consumers still need and want foodservice experiences and convenience, and we see the light at the end of this long tunnel peek through.”