The U.S. restaurant industry should expect another year of slow customer growth this year after seeing flat traffic in the year ended in June, according to the NPD Group.  Visits to quick service restaurants, such as McDonald’s, were flat in the year ended in June.  Visits to full-service casual restaurants fell 3 percent, while trips to midscale restaurants fell 4 percent, the NPD Group said.

The NPD Group predicted that overall visits to restaurants would grow less than 1 percent annually for the next several years.  The NPD outlook comes after some chains have struggled to attract diners, especially as prices rise because of higher food costs.  According to NPD, the number of restaurants in the country grew by just 0.8 percent in the year ended in March.  “Prior to the recession when industry traffic was strong and money was more available, the industry expanded units rapidly, but in today’s market unit growth must be a calculated risk,” Greg Starzynski, director of production management at NPD Foodservice, said in a statement.