Restaurant sales flat, but traffic still vanishing along with employees

TDn2K reported that chain store comp sales gained slightly over the rolling three-month period, up 0.8 percent, though comp traffic dropped 2.9 percent in May and sales were flight, while traffic over the rolling three-month period was off 2.1 percent. 

The data analytics company said that's not all that bad though since May's flat same-store sales growth show recovery industry-wide, even if sales did falter over the previous month. That's because chains have now racked up three straight months of flat or positive same-store sales growth, and year-to-date growth is also positive. That compares with each of the previous two years when sales dropped 1 percent.

Year-over-year however, foodservice continues to see dropping guest counts, including a May 2.9 percent decline in same-store traffic. But the customers who are buying are buying more, TDn2K said in its report, are pushing sales into positive territory. 

The regional picture

The West was the strongest part of the U.S. for restaurant sales in May with a 2.8 percent increase, despite traffic falling off 0.9 percent. Alternatively, New England was the most sluggish region with a 2.4 percent decline in sales and traffic off a harrowing 5.1 percent. 

TDn2K said that May same-store sales showed significant challenges still exist for the industry at the local level with flat national sales year-over-year, while only five of the 11 regions saw same-store sales growth in May. 

Employee turnover highest in 'decades'

TDn2K put it this way, regarding restaurant employment issues, "There is no doubt that one of the biggest challenges restaurants are facing is finding enough qualified employees to run their restaurants."

With turnover already at its highest point in decades for both hourly and management staff, turnover again increased in April on a rolling 12-month basis. 

"This is to be expected considering that the national unemployment rate is now as low as it has been in the last 50 years," TDn2K Vice President of Insights and Knowledge Victor Fernandez, said in the report. "Furthermore, in 1969, restaurants were not up against companies like Uber or GrubHub when competing for employees. People Report data shows currently over 75 percent of restaurant companies are constantly understaffed." 

TDn2K's recent People Report Recruiting & Turnover survey showed some of the best strategies for addressing the problem currently involve brand leadership's focus on compensation adjustments, restaurant manager engagement improvement and increased training at all levels.

Topics: Trends / Statistics

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