CHICAGO — Even as more than a dozen states reduced restaurant capacity to combat surging coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, customer transactions at major restaurant chains improved slightly in November.

Transactions were down 8% year-over-year, compared to a 9% decline in October, according to The NPD Group. The improvement was driven largely by off-premises orders at quick-service chains.

“Major quick-service restaurant chains have learned to expand their already high capacity for off-premises volumes,” said David Portalatin, NPD food industry adviser. “We should continue to expect drive-thru and delivery to be performance drivers for the best performing restaurant operators as consumers continue to shift meal occasions to the home.”

Across all restaurants, off-premises transactions increased 21% compared to the same period a year ago. Carryout orders, which hold the largest share of off-premises traffic at 46%, increased 6%. Drive-thru orders, which account for 43% of off-premises traffic, increased 24%. Delivery, which represents an 11% share, increased 125%. Dine-in transactions, in contrast, were down 53% from a year ago. 

Off-premises gains came at the expense of full-service restaurants, which saw transactions fall 23% in November. Declines deepened in the second half of the month as more parts of the country reintroduced capacity and dine-in restrictions.