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Restaurant traffic woes a global problem

PORT WASHINGTON N.Y. American restaurant operators might think they had it bad in the first quarter this year, but research released Tuesday by The NPD Group indicates that foodservice outlets in Europe, Canada and Japan also suffered as consumers cut back on spending and restaurant visits.

During the first quarter, foodservice traffic was down in France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States, and it was essentially flat in Canada.

Total spending at foodservice outlets declined during the first quarter in France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain and the United Kingdom — though not in Canada or the United States, according to NPD, a Port Washington-based market research firm that tracks consumer dining habits.

All countries, except Japan, also showed traffic declines in the quick-service segment, though traffic was up among hamburger fast-food concepts and among major chains, NPD said. Meanwhile, full-service restaurants around the world showed virtually no growth.

Most countries saw declines in traffic during all dayparts, though the dinner daypart was not as weak in France. Germany and the United States saw some growth at breakfast, according to the NPD research. Overall, the evening snack daypart was relatively vibrant, with showing some growth or staying flat in three countries.

“It appears this economic downturn has affected consumers similarly, regardless of the country in which they live,” said Bob O’Brien, NPD's senior vice president of global foodservice. “They are controlling their expenses by eating out less frequently, snacking less, cutting back on family visits and, when they do dine out, they are trading down to less expensive channels and carefully managing their check size.”

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected].

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