Editor's note: This exclusive series to Nation’s Restaurant News provides C-level insights into the sales and traffic data from clients subscribing to Black Box Intelligence, a financial performance benchmarking company. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Nation’s Restaurant News.
Restaurant sales moved back to positive territory during the month of March as consumers adjusted to first-quarter challenges, according to the just-released Restaurant Industry Snapshot from Black Box Intelligence and People Report.
However, restaurant consumers signaled a third straight month of pullback, as indicated by the Restaurant Willingness to Spend Index from Consumer Edge Research, a partner company to People Report and Black Box Intelligence.
“During the first quarter the impact of payroll taxes and tax refund delays certainly hurt consumers and their spending, as compared to one year ago," said Bill Schaffler, President at Black Box Intelligence and People Report. "When you couple that with bad weather, which we were lucky not to have last year, the quarter was disappointing. It appears the consumer began to adjust to these challenges in March, but we remain in a fragile sales environment.”
In addition, the last week of March included Easter, whereas Easter fell during the first week of April last year.
Same-store sales rose .5 percent in March, compared to February’s decline of 5.0 percent. Same-store traffic decreased 2.0 percent during the month, better than February by 4.2 percent.
For the first quarter of 2013, same-store sales fell 1.3 percent and same-store traffic declined 3.7 percent.
Consumer Edge's Restaurant Willingness to Spend Index came in at a level of 81 for March compared to 82 in February and 83 in January.
Additionally in March, 107 out of 171 DMAs posted a positive result, compared to only one in February. The New York-New Jersey region performed the best with a 2.1-percent same-store sales increase, while the Mountain Plains was the lowest performing area, with a same-store sales decrease of 1.5 percent.
People Report also reports turnover results by position by segment to their member companies each month. In March, results show management turnover decreasing while hourly turnover is increasing. The most recent job growth reported by People Report is 0.9 percent, identical to last month’s number of 0.9 percent.
The Restaurant Industry Snapshot is a compilation of real sales and traffic results from over 170 DMAs from 100-plus distinct restaurant brands and approximately 15,000 restaurants that are clients of Black Box Intelligence. Currently, data is reported in four distinct segments: casual dining, upscale/fine-dining, fast casual, and family dining. Black Box Intelligence is a sister company to People Report, which tracks one million restaurant employees on workforce analytics. The Restaurant Industry Snapshot also includes the Restaurant Industry Willingness to Spend Index from Consumer Edge Research, which is a monthly household survey of more than 2,500 consumers. Consumer Edge Insights is a marketing partner with Black Box Intelligence and People Report.