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US restaurant sales worst in 5 years

The downturn in US restaurant sales continued during August as the industry faced its third consecutive month of negative same-store sales growth and the sixth month since the beginning of the year with declining year-on-year sales.

Despite the 0.6 per cent same-store sales decline posted during August, there was some good news in the fact that this result represented an improvement of 0.8 percentage points from the July result and is the second best month since April based on sales growth. The insight comes from data reported by TDn2K’s Black Box Intelligence through The Restaurant Industry Snapshot, based on weekly sales from nearly 25,000 restaurant units from more than 130 brands, and representing $64 billion dollars in annual revenue.

Same-store traffic was down 2.7 per cent during August, a slight improvement from the 3.9 per cent decline in July. But the average guest check increased by 2.3 per cent in August year-on-year, but down 0.5 per cent from July and the lowest year-over-year change recorded since March of this year.

Meanwhile, at the end of August, quarter-to-date sales growth was running at a 1 per cent decline. If sales continue to fall at this pace it would be the worst quarter in more than five years.

Based on same-store sales, Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) was the best performing segment during August for the seventh consecutive month. Upscale Casual and Family Dining were the only other segments that achieved positive (albeit very small) positive sales growth. Fine Dining, Fast Casual, and Casual Dining all experienced negative same-store sales growth during August.

California was again the best performing region of the country based on same-store sales growth. It has been the top performing region during five of the last six months. The Southwest has been the worst performing region during the last six consecutive months.

“The U.S. economy continues to confound,” said Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors and TDn2K economist. “Yes, growth is still okay, but each time it looks like it is starting to accelerate, something pulls it back. That appears to have been the case in August.”

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