The Census Bureau’s advance estimate for August reported 0.4 percent increase in retail compared to July and a 4.1 percent increase compared to August 2018. In he first 8 months of this year total retail sales are up 3.3 percent.

As for foodservice and drinking places, the advance report showed a sales decline of 1.2 percent in August compared to July. Foodservice sales grew by 1.1 percent in August compared to the same month in 2018. In the first 8 months of this year foodservice sales are up 3.9 percent. August was a tough month for restaurants but so far, the industry is ahead for the year.

When consuming this data always take into consideration a variety of factors. The survey collects data only from restaurants and bars. Not included in the survey are hotels, motels, resorts, retailers, nor any of the institutional segments – employee feeding, schools, colleges, hospitals, nursing homes, retirement facilities and military feeding. The sales data is adjusted for seasonal variations, holidays and trading day differences but no attempt is made to factor in menu price differences.

Economic News This Week

Foodservice News This Week

  • The Consumer Price Index for Food remained unchanged for the third consecutive month in August. The Food at Home Index fell 0.2 percent while the Food Away from Home Index increased 0.2 percent. In the 12-month period ending in August the index for Food at Home rose 0.5 percent but the index for Food away from Home increased at a much higher rate of 3.2 percent.
  • Huddle House will buy Perkin’s Restaurants for $51.5 Million. The two chains will operate separately. The sale will create a business with more than 700 units and annual sales of approximately $800 million. As for Perkin’s other brand, Marie Callender’s, it will be broken up for sale with the bakery operation to be purchased by David’s Cookies for $18.5 million and the restaurants sold to a newly formed company called Marie Callender’s Inc.
  • Wendy’s plans to launch a national breakfast program in 2020. This marks the second time Wendy’s has tried offering breakfast. The first attempt in the 80’s found the menu items took too long to prepare. The addition of breakfast will require Wendy’s to make a one-time $20 million investment and hire 20,000 new employees. The story did not state if the breakfast program will require the purchase of new equipment.
  • Fazoli’s remodel pays off. The-220-unit Italian chain hadn’t made any significant changes in more than a decade, but reports sales are up 11 percent and traffic is up 9 percent in the redesigned stores.
  • McDonald’s plans to buy Apprente, a start-up firm building conversational agents that can automate voice-based ordering in multiple languages. McDonald’s has been testing the technology in drive thrus and ordering kiosks and says it will offer “faster, simpler and more accurate order taking.”
  • Corporate Stirrings: Luby’s Inc. is examining “a range of strategic alternatives. A special committee made up of independent directors from Luby’s board is to investigate “maximizing shareholder value.” While Luby’s press release stresses the committee will consider a wide range of options these sort of announcements frequently lead to a sale of all or part of the company. Famous Dave’s will change its company name to BBQ Holdings Inc. The change signals the company’s intent to add other restaurants. In fact, it already purchased a restaurant in Oklahoma City.
  • Growth Chains: Casey’s General Store opened 15 stores, purchased 4 stores and agreed to by 11 stores in the company’s last fiscal quarter.
  • Comparable Store Sales Reports: CEC Entertainment up 0.5 percent and Dave & Buster’s down 1.8 percent.

For details and same-store sales of other chains, click here for the latest Green Sheet.