It's a good year to sell burgers or coffee.
Total foodservice industry traffic grew 1% in the third quarter after six consecutive quarters of flat or negative stats, according to the NPD Group, due in large part to an uptick in traffic at quick service (QSR) burger or gourmet coffee chains.
"Collectively," NPD wrote, "the top QSR burger and gourmet coffee chains account for a sizeable percentage of total QSR traffic and have a major impact on industry traffic overall." Their success is largely driven by marketing initiatives including deals, values, new products and delivery.
Deal-related traffic jumped 7% in the third quarter at burger and coffee chains, which NPD said was the strongest seen in "quite some time." It looks as if McDonald's Corp. (MCD) drink deals and specialty menu items and Starbucks Corp. (SBUX) holiday offerings could work, after all.
Traffic at fast casual QSR restaurants outside of the burger and coffee arena - like Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. (CMG) or Panera - grew 8% over last year, NPD said. Most of that came from strong unit growth in the three months ended Sept. 30.
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For last quarter, visits to QSR establishments excluding burger and coffee chains were flat. Still, that was an improvement over the negative traffic trends restauranteurs were met with in the second quarter.
As menu prices increase, consumer spending so too increases. Diners spent 2% more at restaurants and foodservice outlets last quarter compared to a year earlier. It makes sense - the average eater check price has grown 18% over the past decade.
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