Low consumer confidence and the stressed global economy were reflected in the weak foodservice traffic in most countries around the world in the quarter ending September 2011, according to The NPD Group, a leading market research company.
The growing or more stable domestic economies of Canada, China, and France encouraged more visits over last year.
In contrast, Italy, with one of the more challenging economic environments, also experienced traffic gains in the quarter.
According to NPD’s CREST, which tracks commercial foodservice usage in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, United Kingdom, and the United States, restaurant traffic declines were steepest in Spain, due to persistent economic weakness, and Japan, which is still feeling the after effects of this year’s earthquake.
Australia experienced traffic declines in the quarter in spite of a growing economy. China posted traffic gains of 19 percent over the same quarter last year.
“Although foodservice traffic in China experienced double-digit growth over last year, the country’s consumer confidence is not as strong as last year,” says Christina Ma, director, China foodservice.
“Chinese consumers have become more careful about spending their money on foodservice visiting, and are increasingly selecting inexpensive foodservice channels, such as bakery/coffee shop and retail, and ordering less food and beverage items.”
According to NPD, foodservice chains continue to grow around the world and visits to independent foodservice concepts have stabilized and returned to growth in some countries. Promotions are still important in attracting consumers to visit foodservice outlets.
Lunch traffic appears to be growing in some of the stronger economies while breakfast, which is largely a non-core daypart outside of Italy and China, is growing in most markets. Visits during the supper daypart are also growing in most countries.
“There still is a mixed bag of health and weakness across the global foodservice industry,” says Bob O’Brien, senior vice president of global foodservice at NPD. “While a few of the countries we track posted traffic gains, the news for the third quarter of this year remains disappointing.”
NPD CREST will pilot a foodservice usage tracking program in Mexico the first calendar quarter of 2012 and will issue a report mid-year.