One quarter down for 2023 and we still don’t have a whole lot of certainty about the macroeconomic picture and its implications for the restaurant industry. Our crystal ball has displayed mixed signals for months (here and here, for instance) and there aren’t many indicators that’s going to change anytime soon.
What’s mixed, exactly? Well, on one hand, labor is improving for the industry and consumers have proven their willingness to access restaurants despite relentlessly higher menu prices. On the other, customers are getting anxious about bank turmoil and layoffs and higher interest rates and are continuing to pull back on discretionary spending. A recession is yet to be declared, though several signs are pointing aggressively in one’s direction.
Here, executive editor Alicia Kelso analyzes the latest on The Great Trade Down.