Traffic Growth Tumbled as Guest Check Growth Accelerates
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Data through the week ending May 8, 2022
- Restaurant year-over-year sales growth slowed down relative to the previous week. The industry’s sales performance has clearly improved recently. The last two weeks have experienced the strongest sales growth in the last eight weeks.
- Traffic growth took a tumble during the week. The drop in traffic growth more than doubled the decrease posted by sales compared to the previous week. A factor behind the traffic slowdown may be a rapid acceleration in guest check in some of the largest segments in the industry. The pace at which average check has increased year over year accelerated in casual dining, quick service and family dining.
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- Most industry segments continue to experience positive traffic growth year over year. Fine dining and upscale casual posted the strongest traffic growth during the week. However, year-over-year guest counts dropped in quick service and casual dining.
- From a sales perspective, Illinois and New York were the only states that suffered negative growth during the week. The best performing regions based on sales growth were New England, the Mid-Atlantic and California. The regions with the softest sales growth were Texas, the Southwest and New York-New Jersey. The latter was the only region that experienced negative sales growth during the week.
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- Restaurants have been facing plenty of challenges over the last two years. Since last year, staffing has been an issue as employee turnover continues to skyrocket and post record high values. But how much have these challenges affected the guest perception of the service experience and how does it compare to the pre-pandemic period?
- Focusing on restaurant reviews captured by Google reveals different results depending on industry segment based on service style.
- Service net sentiment for full-service brands remained essentially unchanged in Q1 of 2022 compared to guest sentiment in Q1 of 2019 despite the many challenges encountered by the industry today.
- For limited-service restaurants, the situation is far more negative. First, net sentiment based on service mentions was negative during Q1 2022, meaning there was a larger percentage of guests complaining about a negative service experience than there were guests sharing a positive one. Second, net sentiment dropped drastically compared to Q1 2019. Service net sentiment experienced a double-digit percentage drop during the period.