- QSR traffic was down by 4.2% in Q4 2022 compared to the year-ago period, while net sales were up 6.1% during this time, according to a report from Revenue Management Solutions.
- Net sales were up largely due to an average check increase of 10.7%, with average pricing up 16.2%. Average check growth was offset by a 4.8% decline in quantity of items per transaction, however.
- Throughout 2022, major restaurant chains increased prices to offset growing food and labor costs, and have reported an uptick in sales.
As restaurant menu prices rise, diners have been buying fewer items per transaction, a trend Chipotle noted during the third quarter. Instead of buying large meals for the family, diners are eating more on an individual basis or paying for a single meal while out with a group. The company noted that this trend has led to fewer burritos per transaction, but an uptick in traffic.
Drive-thru traffic also fell 12.2% during Q4 and was down throughout last year, according to RMS. However, this is likely because drive-thru outperformed other channels in 2021 because people were still concerned by the COVID-19 pandemic. Comparable traffic is back to more normal levels in 2022. Dine-in was QSR’s top-performing channel last quarter, with traffic up 31.1%. Takeout and delivery traffic were also up 22.1% and 15.9%, respectively. RMS did note that delivery traffic was up less than Q3, when that channel’s traffic was elevated 20.1%.
Despite the shift in traffic, diners are still eating out with QSRs of preference, according to RMS’s November survey of 800 U.S. consumers emailed to Restaurant Dive. Consumers reported visiting QSRs more than other segments like coffee shops, breakfast restaurants and full-service restaurants. About 85% of high-income consumers, defined as those with an income over $75,000 a year, ordered from drive-thrus at least once a week, compared to 75% of consumers with incomes below $50,000 a year. High-income families also were more likely dine in (92%), with 83% saying they would order takeout and 73% ordering delivery at least once per week.