After ten straight months of traffic gains, the U.S. restaurant industry’s recovery slowed in January, according to The NDP group.
However, things are looking up.
OMICRON INDUCED SLOWDOWN IN JANUARY
The surge in the COVID-19 Omicron variant impacted restaurant traffic in January.
The NPD Group found that physical and online visits to US restaurants fell 2% in January, compared to an 8% drop in January 2021, with total restaurant traffic – online and physical – down 10%. % compared to the pre-pandemic level in January 2020.
Although restaurant traffic increased by 40% in January, this jump compares to a 61% drop in January 2021. On-site visits in January were down 46% from the pre-pandemic level in January 2020, while off-premises orders were down 10% on the month compared to a 22% increase in January 2021.
“No one ever said that the road to recovery would be smooth and steady. Right now we are experiencing a dip in the road due to the expiration of the omicron variant and stimulus money,” NDP food industry adviser David Portalatin said in a news release.
Interestingly, online and physical visits to quick service restaurants, which account for the bulk of industry traffic and have historically led the industry out of tough times, were also down 3% over the months compared to a year ago. In contrast, full-service restaurant traffic actually increased 2% in January, down 22% from 2021.
RESUME IN FEBRUARY
According to Black box intelligence.
Sales in the first three weeks of the month showed an improvement over January’s sales growth and brought the industry back into positive growth territory. However, a significant slowdown compared to the average growth recorded between June and November 2021 persists.
“Looking forward, we should expect some volatility. The number of restaurants in February will be compared to a tough February last year due to extreme weather conditions,” Portalatin said. “My advice is to don’t be too discouraged in January or too excited if February looks good. Just stay the course because we are on a path of gradual improvement.