Winter Weather Dampened February Sales

Erica Naftolowitz

Applied Predictive Technologies (APT) announced that U.S. restaurant sales for the month of February fell 0.6 percent nationwide. But despite the overall February decline, the APT Index, which compares this year’s sales to the same period last year, indicated a polar thaw, as increasing temperatures were followed by an increase in sales comps.

In the first half of February (Feb. 1-14), the average temperature was 35°F and sales comps were down 2.2 percent. However, in the second half of the month (2/15 to 2/28), average temperature climbed to 43°F and sales comps grew 0.9 percent.

The APT Restaurant Index enables restaurant executives to understand their true comps. Instead of simply looking at year-over-year changes, restaurant organizations can now compare each of their location’s sales to restaurant performance in the area surrounding their locations. These insights enable executives to understand if their restaurants are actually under- or over-performing, adjusting for local market factors outside of the control of decision-makers.

Unlike other sources, which use consumer survey data, the APT Restaurant Index is based on reported sales data, allowing APT to make statistically significant observations about restaurant sales. Beyond capturing sales data from tens of thousands of sales registers, the APT Restaurant Index integrates thousands of other data points, including temperature, precipitation, and demographics, allowing executives to understand how various factors impact performance versus the Index.

February Restaurant Sales – by APT Index numbers:

The big picture

  • Overall nationwide sales: decreased 0.6 percent 
  • Number of transactions: decreased 3.7 percent

At a more granular level, the APT Index shows that areas with certain characteristics were impacted more in February. Among these characteristics, change in snowfall had the largest impact. 

Impact of year-over-year change in snowfall on restaurant sales

  • In areas where snowfall decreased, sales increased 1.9 percent
  • In areas where snowfall increased 0 to 5 inches, sales increased 0.2 percent
  • In areas where snowfall increased 5 to 10 inches, sales fell 2.4 percent
  • In areas where snowfall increased 10 to 20 inches, sales fell 3.3 percent

Metro areas most affected

The Top 25 metro areas that performed the best in February were: Boston with a 6.3 percent increase in sales comps; Miami, with a 3.7 percent increase; and San Antonio with a +2 percent increase. The areas that performed the worst were: Charlotte, North Carolina, with a 7.7 percent decrease; Washington, D.C., with a 6 percent decrease; and Portland, Oregon, with a 5.7 percent decrease.

All figures are a year-over-year, same-location comparison between Feb. 1-28, 2014, and the same dates in 2013.

“The APT Index allows us to understand how restaurants are performing and how various headwinds and other local conditions impact performance," says Anthony Bruce, CEO of APT. "Although comps were affected by poor weather conditions, such as snow, as temperatures began to increase in the second half of February, sales comps also went up, indicating a polar thaw.

News and information presented in this release has not been corroborated by FSR, Food News Media, or Journalistic, Inc.

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