As higher menu prices offset the value of discounts and promotions, consumers are taking less advantage of foodservice deals, according to The NPD Group. The industry analyst’s daily tracking finds that neither deal nor non-deal commercial foodservice visits increased in the quarter ending September 2022, and foodservice deal occasions were down 1 percent and non-deal orders were down 2 percent in the quarter compared to a year ago.

Higher costs have limited operators’ ability to offer considerable discounts and deals. Many operators, especially independents and smaller chains, offer few or no deals. The top-performers — those with the best traffic performance in the quarter — had high customer satisfaction scores based on friendly service, quality food, the taste of food and affordability.

Although deals aren’t driving traffic overall, there is potential for successfully executed promotions. These programs synched to loyalty programs, like digital coupons, or were creative and relevant to customers.

“Today, the foodservice industry has not yet broadly turned to deals to drive traffic. Operators who want to generate short-term lift via discount promotions should consider creative promotions that don’t damage the perception of the brand’s long-term value,” says David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor and author of Eating Patterns in America. “However, it’s essential to remember that the critical traffic drivers remain quality food, tasty food, friendly service, and affordability. These are the attributes of the most successful restaurant brands.”