The Wall Street Journal explores changes in restaurants in 2018. Restaurants added staff in December. Wendy’s re-images with new restaurant design. JAB Holdings looks to buy coffee chains. These stories and a whole lot more This Week in Foodservice.
The Wall Street Journal looked at dining out trends this year. In effect, the article says the trends that hit other restaurant segments before have made their way up the line to fine dining. Restaurant operators now stay open more hours and provide different menu items for different meal periods. Some operations are simplifying their menus and adding lower priced items.
The article noted that casual decor, like slouchy leather couches, continue to replace fancy banquets and walnut tables to make restaurants more comfortable and inviting for guests. While not new, the idea of customers wanting to eat what they want when they want now applies to fine dining, too. This means takeout and delivery service will continue to rise in popularity for this segment.
One owner believes restaurants must appeal to a wider audience because “people don’t come back again and again to the same place for dinner as often as they used to.”
Economic News This Week
- Initial-jobless claims climbed 3,000 to a final level of 250,00 on seasonally adjusted basis for the week ending Dec. 30. Jobless claims remain at a low level, indicating that the job market appears to be doing well.
- ADP’s National Employment Report showed the U.S. added a hefty 250,000 private sector jobs during December, making it the third largest hiring month of the year. December followed only January (268,000) and March (255,000.) Employers of all sizes were hiring last month. Small employers (49 or fewer employees) added 94,000 new jobs. Midsized employers (50-499) increased the number of employees by 100,000 employees, and large employers (+500) hired 56,000 employees. ADP also said that the leisure and hospitality sector hired 28,000 new employees in December.
- The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the economy added 148,000 jobs in December. While this was less than some forecasts, the December unemployment rate remained at 4.1 percent for the third consecutive month.
- New orders for manufactured durable goods grew by 1.3 percent according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s full report for November. New orders for manufactured durable goods have increased three out of the last four months.
- The Institute for Supply Management’s December Production Manufacturing Index hit 59.7, up 1.5 percentage points from November. (Any reading greater than 50 indicates increasing activity.) The New Orders Index increased 5.4 percentage points to a final reading of 69.4. The Production index rose 1.9 percentage points to a final level of 65.8. The Order Backlog Index rose 1 percentage point to a final level of 56. The Employment Index fell 2.7 percentage points to 57.0. Of 18 industries surveyed by the Institute, 16 reported growth in December.
- The Institute for Supply Management’s December Non-Manufacturing Index declined to 55.9 from 57.4 in November. Any reading greater than 50 means increasing activity. In other words, while businesses grew in December they did so at a slower rate than in November. Still, this represents the 96th consecutive month the non-manufacturing index grew. The New Orders Index fell 4.4 percentage points for a final reading of 54.8. The Backlog of Orders Index declined 1.5 percentage points to a final level of 50.0 while the Employment Index grew 1.0 percentage point to 56.3. Of the 17 service sectors studied by the Institute, 14 reported growth, including Accommodations & Foodservices.
- U.S. car and light truck sales declined 5.0 percent in December and were down 1.8 percent for the year. While this ended 7 consecutive years of sales growth, 2017 was overall a strong year with 17.25 million vehicles sold. Moreover, many manufacturers saw increased sales of light trucks, SUVs and crossovers, which tend to be more expensive and more profitable than other types of vehicles.
- November construction spending increased 0.8 percent compared to October and increased 2.4 percent compared to November 2016. Private construction spending rose 1.0 percent over October and November residential spending also was up 1.0 from October.
Foodservice News This Week
- Foodservice operators added 25,100 new jobs in December. This represents 17.1 percent of all the new hires in the private sector last month. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates restaurants and drinking places total employment is 11,797.5 million.
- Wendy’s continues to roll out re-imaged restaurants. The new design includes a fireplace, flat screen TVs, and digital menu boards. Some existing units get some, but not all the updates. The design is called the “Contemporary Image Activation.”
- JAB remains on the acquisition trail. The privately held German investment company, which owns Panera Bread Company, Krispy Kreme, Brugger’s Bagels, Einstein Bagels, Peet’s Coffee and Caribou Coffee among other restaurant concepts, hopes to build its portfolio.
- Corporate Stirrings: Casey’s General Store, a chain of c-stores, received a letter from three investors urging management to sell because the stock is undervalued. The 3 shareholders, who together own about 1.0 percent of Casey’s stock, claim the chain has missed financial goals because of “decelerating same-store sales and bloated operational expenses.”
- Growth Chains: Fat Brands plans to open 10 to 15 restaurants in Canada this year. Tropical Smoothie Café will open 22 locations in the Dallas – Ft. Worth area this year. Also, Tropical Smoothie Café will open 4 locations in Savannah this year.
- Comparable Store Reports: Bad Daddy’s Hamburgers up 0.7 percent, Good Times Burgers up 5.9 percent, Jack in the Box (System down 1.0 percent, company owned down 2.0 percent and franchised down 0.7 percent) and Sonic (System down 1.7 percent, company owned down 3.2 percent and franchised down 1.6 percent.
For details and same-store sales of other chains, please click here for the Green Sheet.