Chicago, February 11, 2020 — Customer transactions at U.S. restaurant chains were up in January, a benefit of milder weather compared to a year ago when extreme weather conditions, including a polar vortex and above average precipitation, hit many areas of the U.S. For the retail weeks ending January 6 through February 2, total restaurant transactions increased by 2% over same time last year and quick service restaurant (QSR) chains were the primary contributor to these gains, according to NPD’s CREST® Performance Alerts, which provides a rapid weekly view of chain-specific transactions and share trends for 73 quick service, fast casual, midscale, and casual dining chains. 

QSR chains, which represent the bulk of industry transactions, grew transactions by 2% in January following four consecutive weeks of gains compared to the declines experienced last January. The full service restaurant segment, which includes casual dining and midscale/family dining chains, didn’t fare as well as QSR, and experienced transaction declines throughout the month. Customer transactions at casual dining restaurants declined by 4% and midscale/family dining transactions decreased by 2%, reports NPD. 

“January is historically one of the toughest months for U.S. restaurants and bad weather is usually a contributor,” says David Portalatin, NPD
food industry advisor and author of Eating Patterns in America
. “This year, however, the month’s milder weather compared to the extreme weather last year drove QSR transaction gains, which kept total industry transactions up.”