Restaurant traffic could grow slightly in 2012

Andrea Gardner Jan 3, 2012

Steve Chiotakis: As the new year begins, businesses of all types hope 2012 will be better than last year.

But as Andrea Gardner reports, the forecast is mixed for the restaurant industry.

Andrea Gardner: 2011 was a flat year for the food service industry. Consumer visits to dine-in restaurants were down about 2 percent, while fast food restaurants saw slight gains. The market research firm NPD Group studies the restaurant industry, and says 2012 should be better — traffic is expected to grow by about 1 percent.

But that’s about as good as it gets, says NPD Analyst Bonnie Riggs.

Bonnie Riggs: The restaurant industry is not forecasted to grow more than 1 percent a year over the next decade.

But Riggs says some types of food service should do better than that. One example is fast casual restaurants, which provide healthier options than fast food, but are less expensive than sit down restaurants.

I’m Andrea Gardner for Marketplace.

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