Fleet Street Kitchen

While traffic rose 0.5 percent in casual-dining restaurants, sales increased 3.2 percent for the four weeks that ended Aug. 10.

Traffic Positive for First Time in 2014

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.

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News and information presented in this release has not been corroborated by WTWH Media LLC.