December yields slight increase in restaurant traffic and consumer spending

by Staff
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PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. — The NPD Group’s first release of monthly sales and traffic information for the restaurant industry indicates consumers spent 4% more at restaurants in December 2006 compared with December 2005.

Consumers spent $33,550,820,000 in commercial food service with 5,462,022,000 visits last December, an increase of 3% compared with the previous year. The increased traffic was attributed to quick-service and chain restaurants.

Traffic at full-service and independent restaurants maintained the same volume as the previous year, but did not increase. Consumer spending at both full-service mid-scale and full-service casual restaurants increased 3% during the month. Spending at chain and quick-service increased 5%, and spending at independent restaurants increased 2%.

"Across the board, trends for December 2006 versus 2005 improved somewhat from those reported in November 2006 versus 2005," said Michele Schmal, vice-president of food service for The NPD Group. "However, NPD does not expect to see the same improvement for January of 2007. January 2007 is going up against a very strong January 2006 when restaurant sales rose 7% and the country enjoyed its warmest January in 112 years."

Overall, breakfast and evening snacks proved to be the strongest opportunity for growth in the industry as a result of expanded breakfast sandwich and coffee options.



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