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But while dine-in sales have slowed for full-service, off-premise sales growth in the segment improved in the past three weeks.

Full-service sales growth appears to hit a pandemic wall, Black Box reports

After 12 weeks of same-store sales improvement, dine-in increases stagnate amid coronavirus concerns

Full-service restaurants’ sales recovery from coronavirus lockdowns appears to have stalled in mid-July as dine-in percentages slipped, according to data from Black Box Intelligence.

The Dallas-based restaurant analytics company said Thursday that, while same-store sales for the industry remained “essentially flat,” full-service recovery from state and local restrictions languished amid a surge in infections in many states.

After 12 consecutive weeks of same-store sales improvements at full-service restaurants, Black Box said those sales have stagnated over the past three weeks.

“As the number of COVID-19 cases rise and new capacity restrictions are implemented at the regional level, the percentage of dine-in sales has decreased,” Black Box said in its weekly report.

“During week ending July 12, 61% of all full-service restaurant sales were dine-in,” the company said, but that was down from a pandemic high of 64% two weeks before.

Black Box cited several possible reasons for stagnant growth in full-service sales.

“In addition to some guests likely being more cautious and avoiding dining out in response to the rising health concerns, full-service restaurants seem to have also hit a ceiling in terms of percentage of their restaurants that are open for dine-in business,” Black Box noted.

“After a steady climb since the end of April, the percentage of restaurants existing in the pre-COVID era that are now open for dine-in has plateaued around 87% for the last three weeks,” the firm said.

But while dine-in sales have slowed for full-service, off-premise sales growth in the segment improved in the past three weeks.

“Off-premise sales growth for full-service restaurants had been slowing down as dine-in sales increased, but that trend has now been reversed in the last three weeks,” Black Box said in its report.

Off-premise sales increases continued to increase for limited-service brands, which are traditionally focused more on to-go, drive-thru and delivery, a trend that had been noted since April, Black Box said.

Black Box said same-store sales for the week ended July 12 were best in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Dakota, Tennessee and Utah.

Same-store sales growth in the period was the worst in the District of Columbia as well as California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Vermont and Washington state.

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Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

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