• NPD reports restaurant visits flat, consumer spending up

NPD's Crest foodservice tracking shows restaurant traffic remained flat for the bulk of the year compared to last year, and forecasts the year will end the same, according to a news release from NPD.

Consumer spending was up 2 percent year over year, driven by growth in average check size. Visits to limited service restaurants were a growth area for the industry in 2013, with gourmet coffee, donut, and bagel QSR restaurants driving much of the visit growth. Breakfast was the strongest daypart for restaurants, with visits increasing by 2 percent in the period.

An area offsetting industry growth in 2013 is the ongoing struggle of full service restaurants, casual dining, and midscale/family dining, which haven't realized annual visit gains in several years, the release said.

Weekday visits to all restaurants was another area lacking visit increases this year. While visits were up 1 percent on the weekends, weekday traffic was flat in the year ending September versus year ago. Millennials and families with kids cutback on their visits to restaurants in 2013.

NPD forecasts a better year for the foodservice industry in 2014, with visits up 1 percent and a spending gain of 3 percent by the end of next year. The limited service restaurant segment, particularly the QSR categories of gourmet coffee, donut, and fast casual, will continue to do well in 2014.

"Although consumers are expected to be cautious about their spending in the coming years, our forecast for traffic and dollar growth for 2014 shows improved performance compared to 2013," said Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant industry analyst. "Despite overall industry demand holding steady, there will always be winners ... or those who can win the battle for market share."

Read more about trends and statistics.

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