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Higher average checks are fueling industry growth, says NPD Group

Higher average diner checks drove a 3 percent year-over-year increase in U.S. restaurant spending during the year ended May 2015, according to research company NPD Group.

Combined with the fact that consumers made more restaurant visits during that 12-month period than any other time since before the recession began, this bodes well for many segments of the restaurant business, food-industry experts say.

However, overall industry gains are tempered somewhat by stagnating traffic in a few key sectors: QSR hamburger chains, midscale and family-dining restaurants, and independent restaurants.

Over the last five years, traffic at these three types of establishments has declined by 2 to 3 percent, NPD Group says. Those doing well have worked to leverage key areas for growth, such as the breakfast daypart, which is seeing customer-visit gains at quick-service restaurants and is holding steady at casual-dining spots.

“There are many pockets of growth in the foodservice industry right now, but the areas that have been problematic for several years now, like the midscale and independent restaurant segments, are preventing real growth in the industry,” Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant industry analyst, said in a statement. “It makes sense that we will be seeing more chain and independent operators leverage the growth areas, like breakfast, in the coming months.” 

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