Restaurant Traffic Remained Weak in the Last Quarter, and NPD Group Says It’s the Operators’ Own Fault

Offering “too much price, not enough value,” many restaurants aren’t giving customers what they want, according to one analyst.

Every segment of the restaurant industry is suffering weak traffic, but special offerings like the Smokehouse Brisket have helped Arby’s thrive.



Restaurant traffic remains weak because operators aren’t giving customers what they want, according to research firm The NPD Group.

Restaurant traffic turned negative in the most recent quarter, making it the fourth straight quarter of weak traffic, according to NPD Group research. “The industry is just not addressing the needs of the marketplace,” NPD analyst Bonnie Riggs told “It’s too much price, not enough value. Not enough incentive to appeal to lower income groups, people who are still very cautious [about spending].” reports that every restaurant industry segment is suffering weak traffic, including quick-service. The fast-casual segment actually performed a little stronger in the last quarter, but it still “remains below its unit growth of 7%,” the website says.

Riggs said the problem would be even worse if not for deal activity. She said deal traffic increased by 3% in the last quarter, while the majority of non-deal traffic went down 2%. “With the average quick-service deal check coming in at $5.84, only 16 cents less than the average non-deal check, what’s out there just isn’t a huge incentive for customers,” reports.


Some fast-food chains, including Arby’s and Taco Bell, have bucked the trend. “What we’ve found is that our guests are willing to purchase items with quality, variety and abundance, at a competitive price,” Arby’s CEO Paul Brown told “For menu items like our Smokehouse Porkbelly sandwich or the Triple-Thick Brown Sugar Bacon that is in restaurants now, for example, we’re offering an alternative to restaurants where you would have to sit down and pay a much higher price for a sandwich of the same quality and abundance.”

Arby’s has also upped its LTO game, averaging 14 limited-time offers a year compared to six per year previously. These offers have included the Liger, a striped, milkshake made with orange cream and Ghirardelli chocolate.


Edit Module

Tell us what you think at or email.

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Articles

Beer for Life and German Pizza

New Brewtorium in Austin, Texas, sells German pizza and a beer-for-life program.

Have You Heard of Beach Pizza?

This square pizza started near the shore in the 1940s.

New York Water From Your Tap?

NJ company promises new filtration system will deliver New York-quality water to any city's tap.

How 786 Degrees Has Almost 800 Positive Yelp Reviews

Ali Haider, owner of 786 Degrees in Los Angeles, talks with Bruce Irving about his passion for pizza and igniting that passion in others.

Chocolate Pizza Dough is Now a Thing

This pizzeria puts chocolate inside its pizza dough, and it's incredible!

New Study Says Pizza Stimulates Productivity

Promises of pizza are a bigger motivator than cash, according to study.

Reese and Mindy Make Everyone Want Pizza

Pizza orders surely went up after Reese Witherspoon posted this photo of her and Mindy Kaling eating pizza on the set of A Wrinkle in Time.

Uproar in Milan Over Healthy Pizza

Michelin-starred chef is making enemies with his whole-grain pizza.

Bulgarian Pizza Plays Hide and Seek

Comic guest blogger "Russian Man" uncovers hidden pizza toppings in Bulgaria in an exclusive report for PMQ.

How to Make Wild Game Pizza

Field and Stream's editor-in-chief shares his recipe for venison sausage pizza made in a cast iron skillet.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags