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Industry Trends September 4, 2020

As we enter the month of September, traffic trends and sales around the world are staying in line with previous weeks.

Have we arrived in the “next normal?” Or are more changes afoot? Whatever it is, we are here with the latest restaurant data and consumer insights, to help clients make the best decision for their brands. The following information is for your consideration is as of Friday, August 28:


For the week ending August 16, YOY restaurant traffic continues at a slight upwards trend of 0 to 2% growth. All other trends stabilized at the same levels reported in last week’s impact report.

For the US


  • QSR performance entered its fifth consecutive week of stable traffic, trending at negative 10% to 15% YOY. Sales remain flat to positive 5% YOY.
  • TSR traffic and sales remain in the negative 30% to 35% YOY range.

By Food Category

  • Chicken remains a winner, but overall growth has slowed. Traffic for chicken concepts is flat to negative 5% YOY. Sales continue to grow at 18% to 22% YOY.

Regional / Category

  • New England continues to outperform. Traffic for the region is negative 5% to 10% YOY and sales are positive 5% to 10% YOY.
  • Pacific, South Atlantic, Middle Atlantic and West South Central are still down with traffic between 5% and 10% YOY and YOY sales trending between positive 5% and negative 5%.

For Europe

Traffic remains down 20% to 25% YOY and sales are down 5% to 10% YOY.

For Asia

Overall traffic and sales remained static. Traffic is down 20% to 25% YOY and sales are down 25% to 30% YOY.

For Middle East/Africa

The Middle East/Africa traffic remains steady at negative 15% to 20% YOY and sales between 0% and negative 5% YOY.


Winter is Coming: What It Means for Capacity

Outdoor dining allowed restaurants to “expand their space” to meet COVID capacity restrictions. With cooler weather approaching, restaurants will be scrambling again to safely serve customers – and stay in business. As CNN Business reported, “Without outdoor dining, their losses will start mounting again. Some operators won’t make it.”

Pricing Activity

Consumer Confidence Wanes

Consumer confidence continues to decline, according to leading indicators, despite positive growth in the housing and stock markets. While consumer spending has increased in recent months, The Conference Board’s consumer confidence survey fell for the second straight month in August, dropping to its lowest since April 2014. The rise in COVID cases since late July, combined with announced layoffs and the sunset of additional unemployment benefits leaves more uncertainty for the Q4 financial outlook.

Industry Strategy

Kid-Centric Strategies

Families have played an important role throughout the pandemic. With everyone working and “schooling” from home, families are more likely to eat together, they’re more likely to eat at home, and they’re more likely to invest in food through contactless channels. In fact, in our July survey insights, we found that family households are using food channels such as drive-thru, delivery and take out “more or much more” at a rate that greatly exceeds singles. We’ve seen check size grow correspondingly, with checks below $10 declining, while checks totaling $15 and above have grown most and continue to improve YOY.

As brands rethink their menus to meet the needs of post-pandemic consumers, children are an important consideration. A study by C3 Brand Marketing showed that parents overwhelmingly (9 out of 10) want kid-friendly items such as a free gift or a family activity included in to-go orders. Our own qualitative survey of families around the world confirmed that creating special experiences and showing an interest in families are sure ways to keep them coming back.

RMS stands at the ready to support restaurant brands through these ever-changing times. Reach out to us today for practical recovery strategies designed to optimize menu profitability, sales and financial profitability immediately.

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