U.S. Fast Casual Restaurant Success Rebounds Following Decline in 2020; David Portalatin Comments
CHICAGO, IL - The pandemic undeniably posed many challenges for our industry, impacting the foodservice sector especially. While U.S. fast-casual restaurants suffered more than quick-service restaurants early in the pandemic, their customers are returning, with online and physical visits up eight percent compared to last year.
"Fast-casual restaurants have capitalized on the lessons they learned during the pandemic," says David Portalatin, NPD Food Industry Advisor and author of Eating Patterns in America. "Their customers are happy to return because so many fast-casual restaurants have built a strong clientele based on their innovation and ability to deliver a quality customer experience."
According to The NPD Group’s daily tracking of the restaurant industry, fast-casual visits were down by 23 percent compared to the prior year in the quarter ending June 2020, at the height of pandemic lockdowns and restaurant restrictions.
While fast-casual restaurants tend to lack the drive-thru capabilities and off-premises operational efficiencies that traditional quick-service restaurants have, many put a focus on expanding their off-premises and drive-thru operations in the early months of the pandemic. These efforts resulted in an increase of 30 percent in fast-casual off-premises orders in August 2021. Within fast-casual, off-premises traffic went from being just over half of its traffic pre-pandemic to over 80 percent of traffic in the year ending August 2021, a press release noted.
AndNowUKnow is keeping our eye on the foodservice sector as we await the next telltale signs of its rebound, so leave a tab open for us.