GuestMetrics’ data indicates trends for full service restaurants and bars showed some signs of improvement during the 4 weeks ending November 3rd. Overall traffic to full service restaurants and bars was -1.9 percent in 3Q13 vs. prior year, but improved to -1.3 percent during the most recent four weeks. While certainly not a picture of resounding strength, this is the best y/y figure for overall traffic since August.
Traffic to bars/clubs was -4.2 percent in 3Q13 and deteriorated even further to -4.6 percent during the most recent 4 weeks (though it should be noted this is better than the concerning -6.0 percent seen during the 4 weeks ending 10/6/13). Casual dining traffic was -2.0 percent during 3Q but then improved to -1.2 percent during the 4 weeks through early November. Lastly, traffic to fine dining was -0.7 percent during 3Q and remained generally consistent with that level at -0.6 percent during the most recent four weeks. So while bars/clubs weakened relative to 3Q and fine dining showed only a minimal improvement, the improvement in overall on-premise traffic trends was driven almost exclusively by casual dining (which represents nearly 70 percent of overall on-premise).
On-premise alcohol volumes were -3.7 percent during 3Q13 but improved to -2.9 percent during the most recent 4 weeks. In terms of the specific alcohol categories, beer volumes were -4.8 percent in 3Q13 but improved slightly to -4.0 percent during the most recent 4 weeks. Spirits volumes were -3.1 percent in 3Q13 but improved to -2.4 percent during the most recent 4 weeks. And lastly, wine volumes were -1.3 percent during 3Q13 but improved to -0.4 percent during the most recent 4 weeks, so after starting the year off on a strong note but then weakening over the past few months, wine volumes almost broke back into positive y/y territory.
Given 3Q showed the weakest trends of the year in on-premise, the slight improvement seen during the most recent 4 weeks is certainly a positive. However, key will be to see whether this is the beginning of a more sustained improvement in the coming months, or whether the improvement is just a temporary uptick from pent-up demand from the government shutdown. GuestMetric’s sister company, Consumer Edge Research, published its interim CEI index last week which showed that there wasn’t much of a bounce in consumer confidence thus far in November despite an end to the government shutdown.
News and information presented in this release has not been corroborated by FSR, Food News Media, or Journalistic, Inc.