Restaurant sales fully recovered in April

The pandemic is over, at least for the income of restaurants across the country.

Food services and drinking places generated $ 64.9 billion in sales in April, according to retail sales data released by the US Census Bureau on Friday. This was up 3% from March and was more than double what it was in April a year ago – when the industry lost more than half of its sales as the States closed dining rooms to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Perhaps more importantly, it is up 2% from April 2019, which means that the industry has effectively returned to a more normal state, at least in terms of the revenue it receives from customers for the food and drink.

Restaurant sales pick up

Source: US Census Bureau

To be sure, there is another hurdle that needs to be cleared before restaurants can truly say they are recovered. Sales remain about 5% below what they should be had there not been a pandemic and the industry has continued to grow at about the rate of inflation.

Still, this is a clear sign of the rapid and widespread restaurant recovery over the past two months. Consumers, armed with excessive stimulus payments and unemployment benefits, have spent in restaurants, eaten indoors at casual eateries and are lining up at the drive-thru nationwide.

All forms of spending in the industry appear to exceed 2019 levels. San Diego-based burger chain Jack in the Box said Thursday that its same-store sales were up more than 16% from previous levels. 2019 levels in its final quarter. Casual restaurant chain Cheesecake Factory said its April sales were up 7% from 2019 levels.

Third-party delivery also continued to generate strong sales, as did pizza chains that now believe they can sustain the strong sales they generated last year, even as consumers return to eat inside. restaurants.

Independent restaurants also had strong sales, at least according to major distributors US Foods and Sysco. “The independent restaurant industry surpassing 2019 sales levels in reopened markets is a positive result and a schedule for a faster rebound than industry expected,” Sysco CEO Kevin Hourican told investors more early this month.

According to Black Box Intelligence, same-store sales in April were 6.8% higher than in 2019, an improvement of 460 basis points from March.

Two-year comparable store sales have been positive for seven straight weeks, Black Box said on Wednesday, while noting that they slowed down during the week ended May 2 – perhaps suggesting that the impact stimulus payments are starting to decline.

Indeed, according to data research firm Facteus, restaurant sales slowed from 21% more than in 2019 during the week ended April 18 to 12% up during the week ended May 9. Fast food restaurants slowed from 27% to 20%.

Yet soaring sales have created intense demand for labor as restaurants struggle to recruit workers, while also creating headaches for the supply chain as producers – many of them have their own labor issues – struggled to produce enough things like ketchup pouches and chicken wings.

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