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Customer Transactions Tapers Off for Restaurants Under Covid-19

Posted by: | Posted on: August 28, 2020


A decline in customer transactions at restaurants hit single digits for the first time in months after the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the economy.

Customer transactions were down 9% in the week ending on Aug. 16 compared with the same period last year, according to The NPD Group. That dip represents a 35-point gain from the steepest drop seen in the week ending on April 12. Transactions dropped 44% that week compared with the previous year.

The weekly report of transactions covers 75 quick service, fast casual, mid-scale and casual dining chains, which represent 53% of commercial restaurant transactions in the United States, according to NPD.

The restaurant industry has been especially hard-hit by the pandemic, which has forced offices to close; dine-in facilities to transition to take-out and delivery; and led to a spike in layoffs and unemployment claims earlier this summer. Data from Yelp and OpenTable indicates several restaurants were forced to permanently close as a result of the virus.

Customer purchases at quick service chains, which represent the bulk of the restaurant industry’s transactions, were down 8% in the week ending in Aug. 16, compared with the same period a year ago.

Full service chains, which were the most affected by state-mandated closures of dine-in facilities due to COVID-19, and which are now slowly reopening, saw transactions decline 19%, according to NPD. That’s a 57-point improvement from the steepest decline of 76% seen in the week of April 12.

“Although transactions are still down, the move into the single-digits is a positive sign for the U.S. restaurant industry,” says NPD food industry adviser David Portalatin. “Although we’re stuck in neutral for now, I firmly believe there is still a lot of upside recovery for restaurants. My belief is rooted in one reality: consumers are not willing to give up on the convenience and experience a restaurant meal brings to them and their families regardless of the barriers.”



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