The spikes in COVID-19 cases in states that have reopened restaurant dine-in services have not yet impacted the continuing improvement in major restaurant chain transaction declines as more states reopen, reported The NPD Group. Arizona, California, and Florida—three states that reported an uptick in COVID-19 cases—showed several points of improvement in restaurant chain customer transaction declines at full-service restaurants in the week ending June 14 compared with the previous week, according to CREST Performance Alerts.

“The only major variable in play with a case surge at the moment would be erosion in consumer willingness to dine out,” said David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor and author of Eating Patterns in America. “There are three main variables that will influence continued restaurant recovery: reopening of on-premise dining and expanding allowed capacity; the willingness of consumers to dine out and feel safe and confident in doing so; and the economic well-being of the consumer. Thus far, the evidence in restaurant transactional improvement confirms that dining rooms are opening, and there is consumer demand to fill opened restaurants.”

For the week ending June 14, total major restaurant chain transactions were down 12% versus the same week a year ago, which is 1% below the previous week but the ninth consecutive improvement year over year. Quick-service restaurants still managed to improve slightly to -11% versus one year ago compared with -13% the previous week. As dining rooms reopen, full-service restaurant chains continue to have the strongest improvement in customer transaction declines, having a week-over-week gain of 12% in the week ending June 14, moving up 6 points on a year-over-year basis to -26% versus one year ago.

Restaurant trends for the week ending June 14 were aided by the fact that 74% of restaurant units are in geographies where some level of on-premise dining is now permitted. For the week ending June 21, that number should rise to 77%, and based on state and local reopening plans at present, 85% of restaurants will be permitted to reopen dine-in services by mid-July.

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