US restaurant traffic to recover in 2022

A recent analysis by the NPD Group reveals that despite significant challenges, the US restaurant industry thrived in 2021. Data showed that the sector ended 2021 better than when the year started, even after facing a host of headwinds, the continuing pandemic, labour shortages and rising costs. According to NPD, consumer spending at restaurants grew by 16% in December 2021. This outcome compared to a year ago when spending declined by 12% and was 2% above the pre-pandemic year ending December 2019.
Research also revealed that restaurant online and physical visits increased by 9% last year compared to the 12% decline in the 12 months ending December 2020. Although traffic is still down 4% compared to 2019, the restaurant industry is making some headway in this sector.
Major restaurant chains, which hold the most significant traffic share at 77%, grew online. Physical visits by 7% in the year ending December 2021 compared to the same period a year ago, which is a 2% decline from 12 months ending December 2019, NPD said.
Meanwhile, quick service restaurant (QSR) online and physical visits, representing 82% of all restaurant orders in 2021, increased by 7% in the year ending December 2021 compared to the same period in 2020, and traffic was down 1% compared to the year ending December 2019. Full-service restaurant visits, representing 18% of restaurant industry orders, grew by 18% last year, over a 29% decline ending December 2020 and 16% below traffic in the year ending December 2019.
David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor and author of Eating Patterns in America, said restaurant recovery continues year-over-year, especially compared to last year.
He added: "The industry's recovery will not be a straight line moving upward based on the nearly two years of the pandemic so far. It's going to be bumpy. That said, restaurant traffic should recover 98% of 2019 visits by the end of 2022."

(Image from Unsplash)

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