While the second quarter of 2021 brought on a series of lifted pandemic restrictions, there are concerns that the new Delta variant could undo all the progress that has been made.
According to reports by the NPD Group, spending at restaurants was up 32% in April, May and June 2021 compared to the same period last year. Meanwhile, restaurant visits dining in or off-premises also increased 22% in the quarter compared to last year. Still, the number was down 7% compared to the same quarter in pre-pandemic 2019.
While quick service restaurants benefited throughout the pandemic as they optioned carry-out, drive-thru and delivery options, full-service restaurants bore the brunt of the COVID-19 dine-in restrictions. Full-service restaurant visits increased 60% in the second quarter, but was still down 17% compared to 2019. Despite the gains, FSR dine-in visits are down -37% from the second quarter of 2019.
"The U.S. restaurant recovery is underway, but it will take time for it to return to pre-pandemic levels fully," says David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor and author of Eating Patterns in America. "Commercial restaurants overall remain below 2019 traffic levels. The QSR segment, ideally suited to today's new consumer realities, is performing very near pre-pandemic traffic levels with dollar volumes well ahead of that pace. On the other hand, FSRs still face headwinds such as dining room capacity in some places. Even where restrictions are minimal, labor shortages may keep operators from realizing their full operational capacity."
Per Cision PRWeb:
- Quick service restaurants (QSRs), representing 81% of restaurant visits in the U.S., realized a gain of 15% in visits in the second quarter compared to a year ago and a 5% decline compared to the second quarter of 2019.
- During the second quarter in 2020, which covered the height of the pandemic lockdowns and restaurant dine-in restrictions, QSR off-premises orders increased by 9% over the same quarter in 2019, driven by solid growth in drive-thru and delivery orders. In this year's second quarter, off-premises grew by 5% compared to a year ago, driven by gains in carry-out and delivery orders.