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NPD: Restaurant traffic rises year-over-year in February

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Restaurant traffic increased in February over a year ago.

The U.S. restaurant recovery got back on track in February.

Online and physical restaurant traffic was up 2%, and consumer spending was up 8% in February compared to a year ago, reported The NPD Group. Total restaurant visits in the month were down 8% from the pre-pandemic level in February 2020.

Quick-service restaurant traffic improved by 1% in February compared to a 7% decline in February 2021. In the full-service restaurant category, online and physical visits in February increased by 6% over a 22% decline the same month last year. Both segments remained down from the pre-pandemic level in February 2020.

Restaurant morning meal continued to recover visits in February with a 5% increase compared to a 12% decline in February 2021. Quick service morning meal online and physical traffic, representing 88% of total industry morning meal visits, increased by 6% this February compared to an 11% decline last February. Total restaurant dinner traffic improved by 6% compared to a 12% decline the same month a year ago.

"February began with visits soft as omicron suppressed consumer sentiment for dining out,” said David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor and author of “Eating Patterns in America.” On the other hand, the back half of February benefitted from comparisons to last year's historic winter deep freeze. Looking ahead, we should see some seasonal demand start to heat up in March and COVID-related concerns diminishing. The wild card will be how consumers respond to ongoing inflation, including $4-plus per gallon gasoline."

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