TORONTO — Diners continued their return to restaurants in August, increasing visits by five per cent compared to a year ago, according to The NPD Group, which recently merged with Information Resources, Inc. Restaurant sales were up nine per cent in the month versus a year ago; dine-in visits slowed to a 28-per-cent increase from the triple-digit growth in the first months after the pandemic-related lockdowns; and carry-out orders were up four per cent compared to a year ago.
Additionally, breakfast visits grew by nine per cent versus a year ago while dinner visits increased by three per cent. On the other hand, lunch traffic was down three per cent in the month compared to last year. Consumer visits during the morning and evening snack periods were up 11 per cent and afternoon snack periods grew by nine per cent.
Furthermore, traffic to quick-service restaurants (QSRs), which represented 74 per cent of restaurant visits, increased by four per cent in August compared to last year. QSR breakfast traffic was up 13 per cent while the other main meal dayparts were down. In comparison, full-service restaurant (FSR) visits, representing 26 per cent of industry traffic, were up by six per cent versus last year.
“In August, we saw a mix of pre-pandemic and COVID-era restaurant behaviours with the slowdown in dine-in visits and the uptick of carry-out orders,” says Vince Sgabellone, foodservice industry analyst at The NPD Group. “It’s too soon to say if the August results are a trend or a blip. Since September is traditionally one of the busiest on the foodservice calendar, the next data release will be a very telling indication of a cooling recovery or just cooling weather.”