This Week In Foodservice

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


U.S. Retail Sales Beat the Forecasts for September

The September increase in U.S. retail sales beat the forecasts. Via 313 Pizza has received an investment from the Savory Fund. These stories and a whole lot more This Week in Foodservice.

Retail sales increased 1.9% in September, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Forecasts were in the 0.7% range compared to August. Compared to September of last year, total retail sales were up 5.4%. Advanced August sales were essentially unchanged. In the first 9 months of this year total retail sales grew by 0.8%.

The advance estimate for foodservices and drinking places saw September sales increase 2.1% compared to August. Compared to September of 2019, restaurants and bar sales were down 14.4%. In the first 9 months of this year foodservices and drinking place sales declined 20.1% from the same period in 2019.

This data comes with some cautions and limitations. First, the Census Bureau’s bases its advance report on a limited sample and may revise it with the receipt of a broader sample. Second, the survey covers only restaurants and bars. Not included are hotels, resorts, clubs, employee feeding, schools, colleges, healthcare and military. Finally, some but not all the statistics are adjusted for seasonal variations, holidays, and weekends but not for menu price changes.

Economic News This Week

  • Initial-jobless claims totaled 898,000, an increase of 53,000 for the week ending Oct. 10. The 4-week moving average totaled 866,250, an increase of 8,000. Initial claims have consistently stayed at this level for roughly two months, confounding those who expected the number of layoffs to decline in the fall. Many economists see the jobless claims increases as an indicator of a weakening rebound.
  • The New York Federal Reserve’s Empire State Manufacturing Survey showed modest improvement in October. The index fell 6.5 points for a reading of 10.5. Any reading greater than zero indicates growth. The New Orders Index rose 5.2 points to 12.3. The Shipments Index rose 3.7 points to 17.8. The Unfilled Orders Index improved 2.8 points but stayed in negative territory at minus 6.6. The Number of Employees Index increased 4.6 points to 7.2 while the Average Employee Workweek jumped 9.4 points to 16.1.
  • The Producer Price Index for Final Demand advanced 0.4% in September. The index increased 0.4% for both Final Demand Goods and for Final Demand Services. Final Demand increased 0.4% in the last 12 months. Final Demand Food Prices increased 1.2% in the 12-month period ending in September this year.
  • The Consumer Price Index for all items increased 0.2% in September and is up 1.4% in the 12-month period ending in September. Excluding food and energy prices the index rose 0.2% in September and is up 1.7% in the 12-month period ending in September. Prices for food in September were unchanged from August and up 3.9% in the 12-month period ending in September. Prices for food at home decreased 0.4% in September and are up 4.1% for the last 12 months. Prices for food away from home increased 0.6% in September and are up 3.8% for the 12-month period ending in September.
  • The University of Michigan’s preliminary Index of Consumer Sentiment for October edged up to 81.2 from 80.4 in September. A look at the components of the index shows a mix of consumer emotions. The Current Economic Conditions Index declined from 87.8 in September to 84.9 this month. A spokesperson for the university attributes the drop to continuing job layoffs, a resurgence in positive COVID-19 infections and a failure by congress to pass a relief program. The Index of Consumer Expectations rose from 75.6 in September to 78.8 this month but is still down 14.4% from its February peak.

Foodservice News This Week

  • John Taffer, host of the television show "Bar Rescue," launched a franchised tavern known as Taffer’s Tavern. The first Taffer’s Tavern will open in Alpharetta, Georgia late this month. Cuisine Solutions has also signed on as a franchisee in the D.C area. BG Hospitality Group will launch five taverns in the Boston area.
  • Texas-based Via 313 Pizza received an investment from the $100 million savory fund. Savory’s current portfolio includes The Crack Shack, Mo’ Bettahs, R&R BBQ and Swig.
  • IHOP expanded its franchise holding with the purchase of 41 IHOP restaurants from Suncakes LLC. The restaurants operate in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee. Financial terms were not disclosed.
  • The coronavirus has been especially rough on buffet operations and the hits keep coming as VitaNova Brands announced the closing of two Hometown Buffets in California, a Ryan’s in West Virginia and an Old Country Buffet in Illinois.
  • Growth Chains: Famous Dave’s signed a 25-unit development deal with the Bluestone Hospitality Group that includes ghost kitchens and dual concept operations.
  • Comparable Store Sales Reports: McDonald’s up 4.6%.

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