U.S. restaurant traffic has failed to recover from the slowdown of the recession. Consumers made 61 billion visits to restaurants in the year ending May 2014, which is roughly 2 billion fewer visits than in 2008, according to data from The NPD Group.  Traffic has remained relatively flat since 2010. Below is a chart from NPD showing the trend over the last six years:

NPD restaurant data

The NPD Group

Restaurant traffic isn’t expected to pick up any time soon, according to NPD restaurant analyst Bonnie Riggs. “The restaurant industry in total is forecast to grow less than .5 percent a year over the next decade,” she said.

Quick service restaurants, such as McDonald’s, and casual dining chains, such as Olive Garden and TGI Fridays, will suffer the most from the traffic slowdown, she said. Fast casual restaurants, however, which include chains like Chipotle and Panera,  will see traffic grow at a faster rate of about 2 percent per year, according to NPD’s estimates.

McDonald’s same-store sales in the United States fell 1.5 percent in the most recent quarter, the company reported Tuesday. By comparison, Chipotle’s same-store sales rose 17 percent in the second quarter.

Consumers perceive fast casual restaurants, which are often more expensive than quick service, as having healthier, better quality ingredients, Riggs said. “When you deliver on consumers’ value expectations, price isn’t the issue,” she said.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/restaurant-traffic-flat-2014-7#ixzz38UNgjAAJ