The mandated closures of dine-in restaurant that took effect in most states beginning the week ending March 22 has taken a toll on U.S. restaurant transactions, The NPD Group reported. Total restaurant customer transactions declined by 36% in the week ending March 22 compared to same week a year ago, according to NPD’s 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.
Customer transactions at quick-service restaurants, which represent the bulk of restaurant industry transactions and have more off-premise business than full-service restaurants, decreased by 34% in the week ending March 22 from a year ago. As full-service restaurants, which are heavily reliant on dine-in sales, struggled to quickly convert to off-premise modes, customer transactions dropped by 71%.
According to NPD’s restaurant location database ReCount, about 94% of U.S. restaurants were under some level of restrictions, with most prohibiting on-premise service. On-premise service represents 52% of restaurant industry dollars, while off-premise service like carry-out, drive-thru and delivery represent 48% of dollars. For the year ending February 2020, digital orders represented 13% of all off-premise dollars.
“It’s highly probable that this crisis will define winners and losers by their digital proficiency, since consumers may prefer the contactless delivery protocol that digital ordering offers,” said David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor and author of Eating Patterns in America. “Now that we’re living in a world where the entire industry is an off-premise business, digital orders gain importance and provide an edge to those who already lead in that space.”