Share this story
Close X
Switch to Desktop Site

Do discounts increase customer visits at restaurants? NPD says no.

(Read article summary)
View video

Gene J. Puskar/AP/File

(Read caption) A Wendy's single hamburger with cheese combo meal at a Wendy's restaurant in Pittsburgh (March 17, 2014).

View photo

Consumer restaurant traffic was flat in Q1, but restaurant visits on deal were up twice that rate overall and up 3% for quick-service restaurants, according to The NPD Group.

A significant driver in that “deal” traffic has been the discount competition among QSR burger chains, especially McDonald’s heavily marketed McPick 2 for $2 or $5, Wendy’s 4 for $4 bundle and Checkers/Rally’s $4 Meal Deal. “Combo meal visits to traditional QSRs increased by 2% in the first quarter of 2016, and helped improve QSR hamburger visits overall.  The average deal rate (percent of visits where an item was purchased on a deal) for QSRs is 26%. The average deal rate for the burger chains offering the combo meal value deals is 35%,” NPD reports.

About these ads

But all that dealing is not growing the market: Overall QSR burger customer traffic was flat in Q1 compared to year ago, per NPD.

Recommended:10 fast foods that have disappeared

However, customer traffic at QSRs during breakfast hours was up 4% versus a year ago. For the overall industry, morning visits increased by 2%. Servings of breakfast foods rose 8%.

NPD notes that Chipotle’s category dominance skews results for the fast-casual category, which saw flat customer traffic growth in the first quarter. But exclude Chipotle, which continues to suffer from backlash over food-safety issues, and fast-casual visits are up 5%.


Breakfast’s status as the lone growth daypart helps explain Good Times Burgers & Frozen Custard’s decision this week to add a new line of double-egg breakfast sandwiches as well as seasoned breakfast potatoes.

The new Bacon & Cheddar Breakfast Sandwich has two eggs, Cheddar cheese and bacon in bread from local Izzio’s Artisan Bakery in Denver (the 37-store chain’s base). The Tuscan Breakfast Sandwich has two eggs, pesto, tomato, and balsamic vinaigrette in Izzio’s Artisan Bakery bread. The sandwiches available before 10:30 a.m. and are $3.79 alone; $5.99 in a combo with new Wild Spuds breakfast potatoes and a drink.


About these ads

The Shoney’s chain has launched an “American Icon Tribute” promotion that adds three new burgers to its menu.

Available through July 24, the new items are the Steakhouse Burger; Ham & Cheddar Burger (topped with Cheddar, shaved ham, onion and lettuce with mayo); and a Patty Melt (with American cheese and sautéed onion on grilled sourdough bread). Served with fries, each is $7.99.

Shoney has 140 units in 16, primarily Southeastern, states.

This article first appeared at BurgerBusiness.