Consumers Increasingly Turn to Retail Outlets for Prepared Meals and Snacks

Fast food retail purchases per customer add over six visits compared to quick service restaurants in average 4-week period

Chicago, October 28, 2015 — Foodservice offered by grocery and convenience stores is a far cry from the rotisserie chicken and hot dogs that were staples of these outlets a decade ago. Supermarkets and convenience stores (c-stores) are raising the bar on their foodservice offerings and an increasing number of consumers are choosing these outlets for their prepared meals and snacks in addition to quick service restaurants (QSRs), reports The NPD Group, a leading global information company.

Quick and convenient food from c-stores and supermarkets has incrementally added customers to the fast food/foodservice market, according to NPD’s QSR Plus Retail Market Monitor, a continuous, daily tracker that monitors awareness, trial, and usage for QSR operators in major markets and nationally. Further, the number of fast food purchases made at retail outlets per customer in the March 2015 through June 2015 period is over six visits higher than those made to QSRs in an average 4-week period, although traditional QSRs still hold the bulk (76 percent) of quick service visits.

The majority of consumers are using multiple channels, retail outlets and QSRs, when purchasing prepared meals and snacks. Less than one-quarter of QSR customers are going only to a traditional QSR outlet in a four-week period.  Most QSR customers are using all available retail channels to meet their quick service meal requirements. Those who are exclusive traditional QSR customers are more likely to dine in at the restaurant than customers who use multiple channels for quick service.

C-stores hold its highest shares of these product categories: coffee, snacks, breakfast foods, soft drinks, and Mexican foods. QSRs offering morning meals are the most likely to feel the impact of c-stores on their customer base. The morning occasions are likely in-and-out, grab-and-go visits where convenience and fast service trump QSR chain preference.  Between meal and snack purchases are another vulnerable time of day for QSRs, reports NPD. Grocery stores hold a high share of purchases of chicken, side dishes, and salads. These stores are providing an easy and convenient ready-to-consume meal for multiple family members.

“Consumers use QSRs, convenience, and grocery stores interchangeably for fast food, particularly when they find the same quality and variety,” says Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant industry analyst. “The lines between retail foodservice and QSRs are blurring for consumers, and these channel s are competing for visits from consumers looking for a quick meal or snack.” 

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