Store openings have helped the fast casual channel be the only U.S. restaurant channel to increase traffic over the last five years, according to market research firm The NPD Group.
Visits to fast casual restaurants have grown 6 percent annually over that period, a time in which the number of fast casual units also has grown at a compound annual growth rate of 7 percent. Fast casual chain expansion increased units from 19,231 units in 2013 to 25,118 units in 2017, the firm said.
“Fast casual continues to be a bright spot in the U.S. restaurant industry because they are providing consumers exactly what they want. They offer quick and good service, high quality food, and a pleasant experience. It’s really the not-so-secret-sauce of success.
Despite the success over the last five years, fast casual traffic growth has slowed in the last two quarters. Compared to a 7 percent visit growth in the third quarter of 2017, fast casual traffic was up only 4 percent in the quarters ending December 2017 and March 2018.
Total restaurant industry traffic in the last quarter of 2017 and first quarter of 2018 was flat. In the year ending May 2018, total restaurant visits remained flat and visits to fast casual restaurants were up 5 percent. Chipotle, Panera, Panda Express, and Raising Canes are the top growing fast casual chains in terms of customer visits.
Source: meatingplace.com, 7-4-2018