Restaurant sales

Restaurant sales show few signs of slowing

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Restaurant sales have been rising for nearly three months and show no signs of stopping, at least according to the latest update from Black Box Intelligence.

The restaurant information company said same-store sales accelerated last week and have risen for 11 straight weeks. Sales for the week ended May 30 were the index’s best results in six weeks, suggesting the industry’s post-pandemic sales boom has yet to subside.

Other indications from Black Box suggest a return to normalcy in some regions while other regions continue some of their pandemic trends.

For one, consumers continue to come in less often and place larger orders when they do, suggesting that people continue to buy takeout for families and groups and dine alone less. The average check is increasing at an accelerated rate over each of the past two years.

The number of customers, on the other hand, continues to decline.

But check growth has been weaker in fast food and fast food concepts, according to Black Box, perhaps suggesting that consumers are returning to a more normal state with such chains. Before the pandemic, limited-service concepts relied more on solo diners picking up food on the way to work or during lunch.

More Americans are returning to the office – less than 17% of Americans are currently working from home, about half of what a year ago.

“The average check has gone up by a pretty substantial level,” McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski told investors last week, also according to a transcript on financial services site Sentieo. “We don’t expect it to continue at the same levels. I think over time you will see the average check go down. This will have the benefit on the other side when you start to see traffic start to pick up in the drive-thru.

Take-out and delivery sales growth remains “historically high” for limited-service brands. And they remain “extremely high” for full-service concepts, according to Black Box, but that growth rate has been steadily declining since mid-March. This suggests that consumers are reducing their spending on casual dining on the go as they start eating out more often.

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