Recession still impeding U.S. restaurant traffic


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
September 14, 2010

At just over USD 50 billion, foodservice’s share of total U.S. consumer seafood expenditures fell — albeit slightly — to 66.6 percent in 2009, compared to 67 percent in both 2007 and 2008, according to figures released by the National Marine Fisheries Service earlier this month.

And on Tuesday, The NPD Group reported that visits to U.S. restaurants dropped for the eighth consecutive quarter this spring, yet another sign that a lingering economic recession is still discouraging Americans from dining out. And that’s a bad sign for seafood, about two-thirds of which is consumed away from home, in terms of value.

(U.S. consumer seafood expenditures at the retail level reached USD 23.8 billion last year, with industrial seafood products representing the remaining USD 1.4 billion.)

According to the Chicago-based market research firm, restaurants visits declined 1 percent in the second quarter of 2010.

However, the rate of decline is slowing, as restaurants visits tumbled 3 percent in the second quarter of 2009.

“Although the traffic declines moderated this spring, restaurant operators continued to battle for market share,” said Bonnie Riggs, NPD’s restaurant industry analyst. “Throughout the recession, selected chains have been successful at increasing traffic by aggressively marketing new offers while also providing some low-priced options. One area that showed growth this past quarter came from the value menu, generally a very low price point option for consumers.”

The NPD Group expects restaurant traffic to stabilize in the third quarter of 2010 and begin to recover in the fourth quarter.

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