Why Are Casual Dining and Fast Casual Chains Seeing a Slump in Lunch Sales?

Although there were some impressive spikes in social and foot traffic for several brands this summer, other restaurants, especially chains have seen a decline in same-store sales growth. 

Of the restaurants that saw a decline in sales, lunch time profits have taken the biggest hit. According to a new report by the NPD Group, lunch visits saw a 7% decline in the last six months. 

Big casual dining giants like Olive Garden, Red Lobster, and Applebee's saw a 6% decline, while fast casual brands like Panera Bread and Chipotle saw a 9% decrease. 

Quick-serve was the only segment that wasn't negatively impacted. Restaurant chains, like Dunkin' Donuts, McDonald's, and BurgerKing, known for their fast and inexpensive meals, did not see a dip in lunch sales.

So why the slump in the other markets? NPD believes that it has to do with the cost. The recent menu price spikes in casual dining and fast casual are causing consumers to visit more affordable options or bring their lunch from home. 

NPD said the average cost of lunch is $8, which is higher than what consumers want to pay. 

"Average lunch eater checks in the quarter ending June 2016, which at some restaurant segments have increased by as much as 5 percent compared to the same quarter year ago, have moved upward beyond consumers' 'sweet spot' price, diminishing customer satisfaction and their intent to visit," said NPD Group in a statement to "CNBC." 

"Historically, foodservice lunch has been the occasion where consumers didn't want to invest a lot time, money, or energy into this meal. It's apparent by the drop in lunch traffic that the current value proposition isn't meeting these needs," said Bonnie Riggs, NPD Group restaurant industry analyst to "CNBC." 

But, cost isn't the only factor. Read what other reasons are causing consumer to ditch those casual dining and fast casual lunches. Read more