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.
Black Box Intelligence and People Report released The Restaurant Industry Snapshot for December this week, showing negative results for the five-week month, but what looks like a positive sign from the restaurant consumer through the Consumer Willingness to Spend Index research from Consumer Edge.
Same-store sales fell 1.1 percent in December, a deceleration in results posted in November. The first three weeks of the month, which ended on Dec. 16, showed same-store sales of negative 1.5 percent. The last two weeks of the month, encompassing the Christmas holiday and leading up to Dec. 30, posted same-store sales of positive 1.7 percent. Same-store traffic results showed a decline of 3.7 percent, worse than November by 2.5 percent.
The results seen in December were mainly influenced by the mismatch of Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day. Calculations done by Black Box Intelligence and People Report estimate that New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day falling into fiscal 2013 had a negative impact to the month of December of approximately -1.0 percent and to the last quarter of the year of -0.3 percent.
“We are disappointed by weaker holiday sales as reported by our consortium of over 100 concepts," said Bill Schaffler, president at Black Box Intelligence and People Report. "Although consumers had one additional full weekend of shopping in 2012 as compared to 2011, it did not translate into additional dining visits to overcome the impact of the mismatch in the last week of the month. This hurt December, but should help the first week of January in 2013.”
In December, it was also reported that the California region performed the best, with a 1.1-percent same-store sales increase, while the Mid Atlantic region was the lowest-performing area, with a same-store sales decrease of 3.4 percent. These two regions were best and worst in November as well.
The split of positive to negative DMAs in December was 25 percent positive and 75 percent negative. This is the highest mix of negative to positive DMAs seen in all of 2012.
People Report data shows a mix of turnover results as of the most recent month. In December, results show management turnover on the decline while hourly turnover is increasing. The most recent job growth reported by People Report is 2.1 percent, an increase from last month’s 1.6 percent.
More encouraging news is related to the research done by Consumer Edge Research, a partner company to People Report and Black Box Intelligence. The Restaurant Willingness to Spend Index posted a sharp increase to 91, the highest level seen in 2012.
Read more from Wallace B. Doolin, founder of Black Box Intelligence.
The Restaurant Industry Snapshot is a compilation of real sales and traffic results from 185 DMAs from 100+ distinct restaurant brands and approximately 13,000+ 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.