More States Reopening and a Mother’s Day Lift Help to Continue Week-Over-Week Improvements in U.S. Restaurant Transaction Declines in Week Ending May 10

In the week ending May 10, 19 states allowed some level of on-premise dining

Chicago, May 18, 2020 — U.S. restaurant chain transaction declines continued to improve for the fourth consecutive week in the week ending May 10 as more states reopened and America’s mothers were honored with a meal they didn’t need to cook. Large chain restaurant customer transactions were down 23% compared to a year ago, improving from a 26% decline the prior week, reports The NPD Group. Large full service chain restaurants benefitted from a Mother’s Day lift, with transaction declines up 39% versus the prior week, although still down 58% compared to year ago. Transactions at large quick service chain restaurants declined by 21% in the week ending May 10 compared to year ago, versus a 24% decrease from prior week, according to CREST® Performance Alerts, which provides a rapid weekly view of chain-specific transactions and share trends for 70 quick service, fast casual, midscale, and casual dining chains. 

As of the week ending May 10, NPD, based on its ReCount® restaurant census, estimates that 19 states allowed some level of on-premise dining.  Some of these states never imposed restrictions, while some reopened in the past couple of weeks. In aggregate, the “open” states performed 8 points better than the remaining U.S. in the week reported, which reinforces the point that reopening happens gradually as both dining room capacities and consumer demand come back incrementally. 

Tennessee and Texas are among the largest states in terms of restaurant unit counts that have lifted restrictions to on-premise dining in the last couple of weeks.  Both states showed customer transactions improved by 7 percentage points in week ending May 10 over the prior week. Tennessee restaurant transactions are down 14% and Texas is down 18% compared to year ago. 

“Permanent restaurant closures, economically distressed consumers, and the possibility of a second wave of virus cases still bring uncertainty; but at least for now, the recent run of weekly gains is encouraging,” says David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor and author of Eating Patterns in America.  “The road back will be challenging and slow, but we’re headed in the right direction.”

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