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NPD: Global restaurant traffic remains weak

Higher average checks continued to drive sales in third quarter

Higher average checks drove sales growth at restaurants across much of the globe in the third quarter as traffic remained weak everywhere but China and Australia, according to data from The NPD Group.

In the United States, total restaurant spending increased 1.8 percent for the three months ended September 2010, compared with a year earlier. The U.S. industry’s average check rose 2.6 percent to $5.95, though traffic fell slightly by 0.7 percent.

“Restaurant chains in the countries NPD tracks are beginning to lift consumer spending, but that growth is due to increases in average eater checks and not increased consumer demand,” said Bob O’Brien, global senior vice president of foodservice for Port Washington, N.Y.-based NPD. “We’re seeing some recovery for quick-service restaurants in North America, but little across Europe. Families with kids have begun to grow in most countries, while we have yet to see adult-only parties growing.”

A look at global check average and traffic trends for the quarter from NPD:

Average checks rose during the period in all 10 countries tracked by NPD's CREST Service except Japan. That country’s average ticket fell 3 percent to $8.49, contributing to a 3-percent decline in total spending when combined with Japan’s flat traffic for the third quarter of 2010.

Japan’s total spending decline was the largest, though Spain and Italy’s foodservice sales also declined in the third quarter, by 1.9 percent and 1 percent, respectively.

China’s spending for the third quarter of 2010 grew the most, by 17.7 percent, compared with a year earlier. Traffic increased in China by 16.2 percent, while the average check in that country rose 1.2 percent to $2.56. Australia’s restaurant industry drove a 3.4-percent increase in quarterly sales with gains of 2.7 percent and 0.7 percent in the average check and traffic, respectively.

Contact Mark Brandau at [email protected].

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