Restaurant traffic declined for the seventh consecutive quarter in the first quarter of 2010, according to a report. The rate of visit losses in some categories, however, began to ease compared with steeper declines in the previous quarter, according to market research firm the NPD Group.

Commercial restaurant traffic dropped 2 percent in the quarter compared with the same period last year, and consumer spending slipped 0.3 percent below year-ago levels. Improved performance in the morning meal daypart and quick-service restaurants, led by the pizza category, helped to soften traffic declines, NPD said.

All segments of the industry experienced traffic losses in the quarter with QSRs (down 2 percent) continuing to hold up slightly better than mid-scale (down 4 percent), casual-dining restaurants (down 3 percent) and and fine dining/upscale hotel (down 6 percent).

In the fourth quarter of 2009, however, all but one of those segments fared worse. Fourth-quarter 2009 QSR traffic slipped 3 percent compared with year-ago levels, while mid-scale was down 3 percent, casual dining was down 4 percent and fine dining/upscale hotel was down 16 percent.