The US foodservice industry continued to recover from pandemic-related losses in February, with traffic up by 2 percent compared to a year ago, reports Circana, formerly IRI and The NPD Group. Visits to quick service restaurants, representing 82 percent of total restaurant industry visits, grew by 3 percent in the month over a year ago.
A crucial driver of total restaurant traffic is the morning meal, breakfast and AM snack, which has fully recovered from pandemic losses. Morning meal restaurant visits grew by 10 percent in February compared to a year ago and are up 2 percent from three years ago.
“We’re seeing strong customer traffic at breakfast and morning snack, which means consumers are looking for convenience and portable meals and snacks,” says David Portalatin, Circana food industry advisor. “On the other hand, dinner and lunch visit growth has been slower due to home-centric behaviors being stickier at these dayparts. At lunch, consumers have other choices, including bringing items from home or going to a workplace cafeteria, offering subsidized pricing or no-cost options. Additionally, the higher average check for lunch and dinner may make them less appealing to some consumers.”
Convenience is a tremendous factor in breakfast and morning snack growth, so is it for off-premises ordering, like drive-thru, carry-out and delivery. In February, off-premises traffic represented 72 percent of the total restaurant traffic.
“The morning meal growth is a clear sign of what consumers are looking for when using foodservice,” says Portalatin. “Moving forward, enticing consumers with convenience, whether portability, ordering ease or speed, appears to be where the demand currently is in the foodservice industry.”