If you’re in the restaurant industry, you know just how challenging and unpredictable your world can be.
Well, the day has finally come. Some good news. For the first time since spring of 2016, same store sales in the restaurant industry have turned positive. With a .9% growth, this is some of the best news the industry could have hoped for. In fact, this growth is the industry’s best result in the past two years. Even though it may be seen by some as minuscule, it’s important not to underestimate this positive momentum. In addition, although same-store traffic still decreased by 1.5%, even this is a serious improvement as compared to the 3.6% decrease in months past.
Working in a newly opened restaurant in Chicago, I have witnessed the traffic decline firsthand. Foot-traffic inconsistency has proven to be a big problem in the industry as a whole, and for lunch services that rely heavily on walk-ins, the issue is exascerbated. Even with the evidence that falling guest counts account for the biggest challenge since the recession, this improvement gives new hope for restaurants everywhere.
Not only concerned with traffic, restaurants also benefitted from higher guest checks. Consumers spent 2.5% more than in October of last year. This growth was felt across all segments of the industry. Most importantly, when people spend more money, restaurants make more money. This leads to higher wages among the ranks of line cooks, and a greater influx of tips for servers.
However, with unemployment continuing to be low, many owners and industry professionals face a struggle to keep low-paid hourly employees. Turnover is a constant problem in restaurants. I have seen many colleagues walk out in frustration because they are both underpaid and overworked. Understanding the current restaurant climate and consumer trends is imperative to proper planning and decision making.