Guest Metrics collects data from POS systems in bars and restaurants around the U.S. Its data reveals that after tough year-to-date trends for the restaurant/bar industry, traffic turned positive for the first time this year in the 4 weeks ending Aug. 10.
Full-service restaurant/bar traffic was up 0.3 percent versus down 1.2 percent year-to-date (with sales up 3 percent during the 4 weeks versus +1.6 percent year-to-date). This is a clear indication that consumer spending is finally picking up in what is historically one of the most economically sensitive spending categories.
Traffic to casual-dining restaurants was up 0.5 percent versus down 1 percent year-to-date (with sales up 3.2 percent during the 4 weeks versus sales up 1.7 percent year-to-date). This is the best performance Guest Metrics has recorded all year.
Bar/club traffic was down 0.5 percent versus down 2.2 percent year-to-date continuing the improved trend Guest Metrics saw last month (sales were up 2.2 percent during the 4 weeks versus up 0.3 percent year-to-date). Guest Metrics attributed last month in traffic trends to bars/clubs to the benefits of the World Cup, but notes it was quite encouraging to see the follow-through post World Cup, indicating there is an improvement in general consumer spending taking hold.
Traffic to fine-dining restaurants was up 0.2 percent versus down 2 percent year-to-date (with sales up 2.3 percent during the 4 weeks versus up 0.5 percent year-to-date). Hotels also improved with traffic essentially flat during the 4 weeks, versus down 0.3 percent year-to-date but recovering from a 1.5-2.5 percent traffic drop during June/July.
Food pricing is holding steady at +2.2 percent while total food/beverage price/mix is also holding steady at up +2.7 percent, so there are no signs of restaurants passing through commodity inflation yet, according to Guest Metrics.
Sister company Consumer Edge Research showed its Discretionary Spending Index, a roll-up of more than 30 categories that are tracked through a monthly consumer survey, picked up substantially in Q2 versus Q1. This is consistent with the pickup in sales Guest Metrics has seen from more than 30 public retailers/consumer product companies that have reported their earnings thus far for Q2.