Quick-service restaurants saw some improvement in the last quarter of 2009, according to new research from the NPD Group, even as foodservice across the globe experienced weak traffic and consumer spending for most of last year.
According to NPD CREST foodservice market research data, traffic at QSRs grew in Canada, Japan and Italy during the fourth quarter of 2009. A return to QSRs, which historically leads the foodservice industry out of economic downturns, is both a sign of improvement and consumers "trading down" to a less expensive dining experience, said Bob O'Brien, senior vice president of global foodservice at NPD, in a news release.
Another area showing positive signs was traffic in the non-commercial segment, such as schools and business cafeterias, in Canada and Germany, indicating a sign of growth in employment and school enrollment, NPD reported.
Bad news for CKE
Even as NPD highlighted some bright spots for QSRs, CKE Restaurants Inc., the Carpinteria, Calif.-based operator of the Carl's Jr. and Hardee's chains, on Wednesday announced declines in same-store sales for company-operated stores for the period ended March 22.
Same-store sales at Carl's Jr. fell 7.6 percent, compared with a 7 percent drop during the same period a year ago, while same-store sales at Hardee's increased 0.5 percent, compared with a 3.1 percent increase in the year-ago period.
"The same-store sales trend improved considerably at Hardee's as weather in the current year normalized and as the brand continued to promote the popular Grilled Cheese Bacon Thickburger," said CKE CEO Andy Puzder, in a news release. "However, Carl's Jr. same-store sales continued to be negatively impacted by the poor economic conditions and high unemployment rates in our core California market."