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 February this week, showing significant downturn in sales, traffic and consumer sentiment during the month.
Same-store sales fell 5 percent in February, compared with January’s increase of 0.4 percent. The first two weeks in February experienced very poor sales, influenced by inclement winter weather. The Western region performed the best, with a 2.1-percent same-store sales decrease, while New England was the lowest performing area, with a same-store sales decrease of 8.9 percent.
Traffic showed a decline of 6.2 percent, worse than January's decline of 3.1 percent.
In addition, the February Restaurant Willingness to Spend Index from Consumer Edge, a partner company to People Report and Black Box Intelligence, showed a second straight month of pullback. The results show that it dropped to 82, compared with 83 in January and 91 in December.
“As we stated last month in our January Restaurant Industry Snapshot, the impact of payroll taxes and tax refund delays is hurting consumers and their spending, as compared to one year ago," said Bill Schaffler, president at Black Box Intelligence and People Report. "Couple that with bad weather, which we were lucky not to have last year, and it makes for a disappointing month overall."
Possibly the most telling data point emphasizing the broad-based drop in spending is that only 1 out of 172 total DMAs reported a positive result in February.
People Report data also reveals turnover results by position by segment to its member companies each month. In February, results show management turnover and hourly turnover increasing.
Job growth, as reported by People Report, is 0.9 percent, an increase from last month’s number of 0.7 percent, but significantly below last year's job growth momentum.
"We will be monitoring how the consumer continues to adjust to these challenges in March, but we certainly have a disappointing start to 2013,” said Schaffler.
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 172 DMAs from 100+ 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.