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Industry Trends November 2021

US Quick-Service & Full-Service Trends

We continue to compare 2021 sales, traffic and average check trends to 2019, in order to best assess the performance of Quick-Service restaurants (QSR) and Full-Service restaurants as we find our footing in the “new normal.”

Quick-Service Trends

  • In October 2021, average check was up 27% compared to the same period in 2019, and sales saw an increase of 11%.
  • Traffic trends were down 13% when compared to October 2019.

Comparing month over month, average check increased by 2% since September 2021,  sales increased by 3% and traffic was up 1%. This is consistent with findings from our new pre-holidays report. Among 805 respondents, the QSR segment saw the largest growth in frequency. In September 2021, 27% of respondents stated ordering more or much more from QSR restaurants. This number went up to 33% in October. This may be due to more consumers returning to the office — 42% of respondents who said they ordered more from quick-service restaurants also reported working predominantly from the office.

As the holiday season approaches and some consumers prefer to leave it up to restaurants to do the cooking, QSR traffic will likely continue its upward trend and return to 2019 figures. Last year, RMS reported that Thanksgiving week had a positive impact on QSR sales and traffic trends. We predict the same for this year.

Full-Service Trends

  • In October 2021, average check was up by 21% and sales saw an increase of 7% compared to October 2019.
  • Traffic trends are down by 11% compared to October 2019.

While we’re not back to 2019 levels, traffic, sales and average check all increased over last month.  In September, we saw an average check increase of 19% when comparing 2019 to 2021. September 2021 traffic was down 15% from 2019 to 2021. Sales saw the largest growth month over month. In Sept 2021 sales were up just 2% when compared to 2019. This month it was 5ppt higher – at 7% growth.

RMS will monitor the impact of Thanksgiving on full-service in next month’s report. In 2020, consumers chose the convenience of QSR over the experience of full-service dining, so full-service might see slight traffic declines.

Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to receive an update on QSR and full-service trends next month.


Consultant’s Corner

Customers not so keen on tech?

Despite rising vaccination rates and easing restrictions, we’re likely never going back to our pre-pandemic behavior. To help operators decide how to invest their resources, RMS polled 900 diners across the U.S. Our Q3 quarterly survey asked questions about vaccination mandates, changing work habits, technology and current and future dining intentions. Read our 5 key takeaways as reported by Fast Casual.

Breakfast Up, Confidence Down, Vaccine Mandates Acceptable

While sales continue to climb for restaurants in nearly every category, the upward trend is hard-fought. Dining rooms are open, but staff isn’t available. Commodities are in demand, but supply is short. Customers are coming but in new and disparate channels. Workers are back in their offices, sort of. What are operators to do as we enter 2022? RMS’ Jana Zschieschang shares with Modern Restaurant Magazine her thoughts on consumer trends to expect as we go into the new year.


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

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