Traffic and restaurant sales improved in August. While spending continues to lag behind pre-pandemic levels, both traffic and spending declines decreased in August, according to the NPD Group. In August the decline in traffic fell to -10% and the decline in sales to -9% compared to the previous year.
The reopening of restaurants helped increase the traffic and sales of restaurants. As of August, fewer than 25% of restaurants nationwide had food restrictions. While this was also the case in June and July, the increase in traffic shows that consumers are slowing down to find their way around eating.
"As summer progressed and regulatory restrictions were lifted, an increasing number of consumers became more comfortable with restaurant safety protocols in place," said David Portalatin, advisor to NPD food industry and author of eating patterns in America, in a statement on the results Report.
As a result, site visits have improved every month since April, according to the NPD Group study. This improvement has been gradual as mandatory closings and restrictions on eating indoors have been lifted. Most restaurants can offer some type of dining capacity at this point. As pedestrian traffic in restaurants has increased, so has digital orders, albeit slightly. Research by the NPD Group found that digital orders accounted for 20% of total orders, and by August that number had dropped to 17%.
At the beginning of the pandemic, restaurants drove pedestrian traffic with offers or discount offers. However, these discounts have also slowed slightly as consumers have made it more convenient to eat out. In April, 30% of restaurants were offering a buy-one-get-one offer, and by August that number had dropped to 27%. In addition, restaurants have innovated to cater to customers even with difficult restrictions. This included using the outside space to serve more customers and to work with the city Turn public spaces into dining areas.
Additionally, restaurant owners have found creative table configuration and floor plan solutions that make this easier social distancing between tables. Restaurants have also been found in the Inland Empire creative ways generate new business. For example, Chili has introduced "It's Just Wings", a delivery concept. Other restaurants have also launched social media campaigns, easy ordering and catering packages. All of these features have helped increase sales.
Restaurants have also reported changes in group dining. At the beginning of the pandemic, adult-only parties were more common than family parties. Adult-only parties accounted for 59% and parties with families for 41%. In August, adult parties rose to 63% of all group events, and family celebrations accounted for 37% of group events.