Latest Restaurant Sales Data Sends Mixed Signals

Restaurant sales lost steam in the week ending June 6, marking a dip from the week prior as well as the “lowest performance since sales growth turned positive back in March,” according to Black Box Intelligence’s latest Restaurant Industry Performance Pulse.

Restaurant traffic, too, was the worst it has been in the last nine weeks, according to the weekly data, but check growth remained a bright spot with continued upward trajectory.

New York struggled in particular, and was the only region to post negative sales growth, according to the report. The Mid-Atlantic, California and the Midwest also performed poorly, as compared to other regions.

Overall, fine dining venues have achieved four consecutive weeks of double-digit same-store sales growth, outperforming casual and upscale casual restaurants. Meanwhile, off-premise sales dwindled, too, in a continuation of a multi-month trend in full-service and a newer indicator to watch for limited-service establishments.

A broader, monthly view

Separate preliminary data from the U.S. Census Bureau, highlighted by the National Restaurant Association this week, offers a more positive outlook, though on a monthly basis. In May, the data indicates, eating and drinking establishments saw sales of $67.3 billion, up from $66.1 billion the month prior and up more than $27 billion over levels seen in May 2020.

“However, after adjusting for menu-price inflation, real eating and drinking place sales remain approximately 3% below pre-pandemic levels,” the National Restaurant Association writes. “This indicates that the restaurant industry’s recovery from the pandemic is not yet complete, in terms of a return to normal customer traffic levels.”

The association further highlighted the results of its own June 4-6 survey in which 50% of 1,000 adults said they were not dining on premise as often as they would like, indicating there’s still room (and a desire) to grow that behavior.

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