Poor December restaurant sales set up an uncertain start to 2020

Expect modest growth, declining traffic and rising turnover to persist in the new year, Black Box Intelligence says

 

Black Box Intelligence

via Nation's Restaurant News - Jan 09, 2020

 

Restaurant same-store sales were down 2.1% year over year in December, the worst result the industry has seen in more than two years. A shift in the recording of the Thanksgiving holiday is partly responsible for the abysmal results, which offset the positive figures recorded in November.

 

This report comes from Black Box Intelligence (formerly TDn2K) data based on weekly sales from over 47,000 restaurants and $75 billion in annual sales.

 

Because of the way Black Box Intelligence reports monthly results, this year’s late Thanksgiving shifted into December. The holiday, typically associated with low restaurant sales, translated into poor performance December 2019, while the same month a year earlier did not face the same headwinds a year ago.

 

“As bad as the month seemed, as we said last month, the topline growth result is not telling the full story,” said Victor Fernandez, vice president of insights and knowledge for Black Box Intelligence.

 

But the holiday shift only tells part of the story. The later part of the month was “unsurprisingly” bad as well, he added.

 

“Yes, the first week of the month had a double-digit percentage point drop in same-store sales, but the rest of the weeks of December also reported negative sales growth,” Fernandez said. “The industry has experienced a slowdown in restaurant sales throughout the year. Coupled with the fact that December of 2018 was strong in terms of same-store sales thus presenting a challenging comparison, December of 2019 was projected to be weak regardless of holiday shifts.”

 

Restaurants see signs of growth, despite being ‘crippled by declining traffic’ ...

 

Guest counts continue to fall ...

 

Family and upscale dining outperformed during the quarter ...

 

Expect modest increases for the economy and consumer demand ...

 

Staffing challenges persist amid rising turnover ...

 

Looking ahead ...

 

more, including chart

https://www.nrn.com/finance/poor-december-restaurant-sales-set-uncertain-start-2020