Restaurants Face Traffic Plunge

Things apparently aren’t improving in the restaurant world. Traffic at chain eateries fell by 2.6% in the second quarter, the largest decline in 28 years, according to research firm NPD Group.

And all of this took place even as consumers spent more money. During the same period, average checks increased 2%.

The larger the overall ticket at chains, the bigger the decline. Traffic at midscale restaurants fell 6%, casual dining saw a 4% decline and fast food came on top, dipping 2%.

This report names BJ’s Restaurants, California Pizza Kitchen, Cosi Inc., Famous Dave’s of America and Red Robin Gourmet Burgers as having especially larger traffic declines.

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10 Responses to “Restaurants Face Traffic Plunge”


  1. 1 smiley1 July 22, 2009 at 8:16 am

    Look to Obama, the Fed and Treasury to introduce a program to help prop up restaurants. Something along the lines of CRAP – Chain Restaurant Appreciation Program, aimed at taking ownership in ailing chains…

  2. 2 James July 22, 2009 at 9:47 am

    Traffic is down but checks are up. I hope restaurants are getting the message. Customers are treating themselves to an occassional restaurant meal instead of relying on them as part of their routine. I’d focus my marketing effort on increasing the check size, take the bird in hand appraoch.

    • 3 Patrick July 22, 2009 at 6:35 pm

      Good call. I applaud your recognition that the onus is on the business community to adapt in a changing environment.

  3. 4 Broker July 22, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    I’m not sure Barack’s largess will extend this far down. They should BYOB – bring your own bailout.

  4. 5 Richard Friedman July 22, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    Perhaps the popular-priced chains are hurting, but the mid- to upper-priced restaurants (at least in the Los Angeles area) appear to be doing ok– it seems that every time we’ve called for a reservation (on 2 to 4 days notice), we’ve been told: “…The only available times are before 6:30pm or after 9:30pm….”. Who says there’s a recession going on in the restaurant biz???

  5. 6 Dunkin'man July 22, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Having just read the SCT article on franchise restaurant expansion, I once again, realize that none of us really has a clue.

    Geography, regional preferences, and market segmentation, emphasize that real estate is a local business. Trying to generalize only adds to the confusion.

    Pass the salt…

  6. 7 Patrick July 22, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    I’m amazed at the hostility toward B.O. This article is about the decline in restaurant traffic–a result of the broader economic decline begun last year and yet to show signs of an end. Has everyone forgotten how absurd some of the shopping center deals in 2007 looked? Services like restaurants/retail/hospitality are supposed to follow other core developments, yet we saw so many popping up under asininely speculative assumptions. Good thing there’s a correction in the market, but too bad it’s so painful for those of us in CRE.

    • 8 James July 23, 2009 at 8:15 am

      Footnote: The conservative diatribe has degenerated into cynical pessimissim and negative double speak that benefits no one. What is a Senator’s vote worth if its based on dogmatic adherence to petty sloganism and snide nit picking at the Administration’s success? Did you watch the Sotomajor hearings—Conservatives at their absolute worst.
      Smart people have better things to do–check out Yahoo Finance today featuring predictions of renewal in the stock market. Get a grip America, we are way better than the nay sayers by a large measure.

  7. 9 Ken Simons July 22, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    The cliets are probably buying more drinks(liquor) and less food. Liquor is more profitable.

  8. 10 nodogma July 23, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    AMEN, JAMES.


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