COVID-19 Resurgence, Father’s Day Stall Year-Over-Year Improvements

Customer transactions at major U.S. restaurant chains declined in the week ending June 21 versus the same week a year ago, according to a report from the NPD Group. The decline comes as COVID-19 cases resurge and is the first time since April 12 there has not been an improvement in the year-over-year trend. The period also included Father’s Day, which unlike Mother’s Day, is considered more of a “backyard occasion” than a restaurant dining event.

With new COVID-19 cases suddenly surging across multiple states, some of the states that have been reporting the highest number of new cases experienced steeper declines in major restaurant chain customer transactions in the week ending June 21. Arizona, with a well-publicized increase in cases, saw a 5 point decline in year-over-year transactions this week according to the data from NPD’s CREST Performance Alerts, which provides a rapid weekly view of chain-specific transactions and share trends for 72 quick service, fast casual, midscale, and dining chains. Likewise, Florida, Nevada, and North Carolina, three additional states which recently reported spikes in COVID cases, all saw declines in customer transactions according to the report.

Despite the obvious setback for the foodservice industry, major full-service restaurant chains did benefit from an increase in states that now permit on-premise dining. The NPD Group reported the percentage of restaurant units that are allowed to reopen dine-in operations increased to 79 percent in the week ending June 21 versus 74 percent in the week prior.

“The U.S. restaurant industry’s road to recovery is going to have some bumps along the way,” said David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor and author of Eating Patterns in America. “The pandemic isn’t over and, as often mentioned, is ‘unprecedented’ so there is no road map. The foodservice industry is solidly in the restart phase as restaurants begin to reopen on-premise operations, adopt and implement new procedures and protocols, and keep plans fluid because things could change quickly.”

Read the full NPD report here.