This Week In Foodservice

Jerry Stiegler aggregates key industry information and provides brief analysis to help foodservice professionals navigate the data.


This Week in Foodservice

October Restaurant Sales Down but Retail Sales Up, Menu Prices Still Increasing Faster than Grocery Prices and More

The Census Bureau’s advance report for October shows a 0.8 percent increase in U.S. retail sales compared to September and a 4.6 percent increase compared to October 2017. In the first 10 months of this year retail sales are up 5.4 percent. The September advance sales figure was revised from down 0.2 percent to down 0.1 percent.

Restaurant and drinking place sales in October fell 0.2 percent from September but were up 6.2 percent compared to October last year. In the first 10 months of this year foodservice and bar sales rose 6.0 percent.

Foodservice and drinking place sales were originally reported as down 1.8 percent in the Census Bureau’s advance survey for September but were revised to minus 1.5.

This makes two months in a row that foodservice sales have had month over month declines. Sales stats like these raise the question whether this a trend or just simply a statistical fluke. It is important to note that sales on a year over year basis have remained fairly strong.

There are a number of factors to consider when looking at the sales data above. The survey is only made to restaurants and bars. Not included in the survey are hotels, motels, resorts, retailers, nor any of the so called institutional segments — employee feeding, schools, colleges, hospitals, nursing homes, retirement facilities and military feeding. Thus, roughly a third to 40 percent of the foodservice industry is not included in the study.

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

  • Consumer Food Prices fell 0.1 percent in October on a seasonally adjusted basis. In the last 12 months ending in October consumer food prices have risen 1.2 percent. In October Food at Home Prices fell 0.2 percent while Food Away from Home Prices rose 0.1 percent. In the 12-month period ending in October, Food at Home Prices rose just 0.1 percent but Food Away From Home prices have risen 2.5 percent.
  • Luby’s has failed to file Federally required annual financial reports. In filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Luby’s said it needed additional time to prepare the required statements. This will give the company a 15-day grace period. Luby’s also closed 21 restaurants but did not disclose which brands or locations.
  • The stereotypical image of temperamental chef’s has existed for years. Television cooking shows reinforce the concept by showcasing chefs screaming and throwing things in restaurant kitchens. According to a Wall Street Journal article this behavior not only exists but it is fueled by serious mental health problems. The Journal gives examples of the mental issues in in restaurant kitchens including suicide.
  • The National Restaurant Association surveyed consumers’ plans for dining out during Thanksgiving week. While Thanksgiving is perceived as a day for home cooking, 9.0 percent of those surveyed plan to eat their holiday meal at a restaurant. As for holiday shopping, 43 percent of consumers will head for the stores on Thanksgiving and/or Black Friday. The National Restaurant Association also says 72 percent of shoppers intend to visit a full-service or quick-service restaurant when they’re out shopping.
  • Corporate Stirrings: Sweetgreen has raised $200 million in funding. The chain will use the funds to invest in its supply chain, social impact and technology.
  • Comparable Store Sales Reports: Arcos Dorados up 7.4 percent, Bad Daddy Hamburger’s down 0.7 percent, Bojangles (System up 0.4, Company owned up 0.1 percent & Franchised up 0.7 percent), Carrols Restaurant Group up 1.6 percent, Del Frisco (Total down 1.9 percent, Double Eagle down 2.4 percent, Barcelona up 2.5 percent, bartaco down 7.0 percent & Del Frisco Grille down 0.4 percent), Del Taco (System up 1.4 percent, Company owned up 0.3 percent & Franchised up 3.0 percent), Diversified Restaurant Holdings down 5.2 percent, El Pollo Loco (System up 2.6 percent, Company owned up 2.0 percent & Franchise up 3.0 percent), Famous Dave’s (Company owned up 2.1 percent & Franchised down 1.8 percent), Good Times Burgers up 0.7 percent, J. Alexanders Holdings (J. Alexander’s up 2.6 percent & Stony River Steakhouse up 5.6 percent) and One Group Hospitality up 6.9 percent.

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