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Restaurant operators expect November sales to hold steady

Restaurant operators expect November sales to hold steady

Industry same-store sales rose 2.1 percent in October, according to the latest NRN-MillerPulse survey

Restaurant industry same-store sales slowed slightly in October as quick-service restaurants continued to outperform those in the full-service segment for the 13th consecutive month, according to the latest NRN-MillerPulse survey.

MillerPulse, an operator survey exclusive to Nation’s Restaurant News, questioned operators from 49 restaurants in November regarding October sales, profit trends, performance and outlook. Respondents included operators from all regions of the country that represent the quick-service, casual-dining, fine-dining and fast-casual segments. Those surveyed in November represented restaurants that booked about 17 percent of industry sales.

In October, overall industry same-store sales rose 2.1 percent, which was a modest decline from September and a relatively positive sign, according to Larry Miller, restaurant securities analyst at RBC Capital Markets and creator of the monthly MillerPulse surveys.

“Same-store sales held up rather well, all things considered,” Miller said. “[The 2.1-percent increase] isn't all that bad, considering restaurants had less media support because of the election and negative campaigning likely hurt consumer spending. Sales also got stronger throughout the month for all restaurant sectors.”

However, sales in both major industry segments dipped for the month. At quick-service restaurants, which include both fast-food and fast-casual brands, sales rose 2.8 percent in October, down from the 3.0-percent increase in September. Similarly, full-service restaurants, which include both fine-dining and casual-dining brands, continued to struggle. Same-store sales for that segment rose 1.0 percent in October, down from the 1.4-percent increase reported in September.

“October marks the thirteenth consecutive month that quick-service same-store sales outperformed casual dining and propped up overall industry sales,” Miller said, explaining the continued divide between the quick-service and full-service segments. “We'd point to an improved total value offering at quick-service restaurants and a weak economy that limits both the number of consumers and the amount they can spend.”

Looking to the months ahead, operators believe that November sales will be the same as October. A net 0 percent believed that sales in November will be either worse or better than they were in October, the survey found. That number was calculated by the 31 percent of operators that felt sales figures would be better versus the 31 percent that thought that they would be worse.

The outlook over the next six months was also mixed with operators much more bullish about quick-service and casual-dining restaurants than they are about fast-casual and fine-dining brands. But, despite the uneven outlook among operators, Miller remains optimistic.

“Operators' outlook for November of similar same-store sales and mixed outlook for the next six months has to be considered a positive given sales comparisons become much harder as we lap last year's mild winter,” he said.

Register for MillerPulse at

Contact Charlie Duerr at [email protected].

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