The NPD Group reported new global restaurant data for the second half of 2012, which included sluggish traffic contrasted with an increase in average check in many countries.

Outside of China, most countries experienced traffic declines and no country posted an increase in visits greater than 1 percent, reports NPD's CREST, which continually tracks commercial foodservice usage in 10 countries.

Traffic increased by 8 percent in China, which reported on third quarter 2012 results.

Lunch is generally the largest daypart in all the countries tracked by CREST. Lunch foodservice visits were flat in many of the countries with overall traffic declines, while China and Spain saw visit growth at the lunch daypart.

"Without growth at lunch, it will be hard for any country's foodservice market to be seen as on the path to health," said Bob O'Brien, global senior vice president foodservice. "The relative health at lunch this quarter, even in the weak countries is a glimmer of hope for positive momentum in the coming quarters."

Across all dayparts, foodservice visits in Australia were up 1 percent in Q4 2012 while Canada, United Kingdom and the U.S. finished the year with stable traffic counts.

France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Spain reported traffic declines in Q4 with Spain experiencing the steepest declines at 3 percent.

"The foodservice industry in France continues to be affected by consumers snacking less. Snacking was down by six percent in the last quarter compared to the same quarter in 2011," said Christine Tartanson, director, NPD France Foodservice. "Quick-service, full-service, and cafés are experiencing weaker traffic at dinner and morning/afternoon drink occasions as consumers trade down or eat at home more. Only the foodservice lunch business at quick service and full service restaurants managed to resist declines in the quarter."

Conversely, while many markets had traffic stagnancy, foodservice spending increased in Australia, Canada, China, Germany, the UK and the U.S.

Read more about restaurant trends and stats.

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