November Restaurant Sales Drop While Staffing Nearly Levels
The two major challenges facing restaurants post-pandemic have been COVID-related slow downs, such as labor shortages, and guest spending predictability with inflation on the rise. While the spike in inflation has cooled, and gas prices are lowering, November saw a slight dip in restaurant guests across the country, likely related to several months of highly inflated prices. Though consumer attention may have been diverted to future spending around holidays, November generally serves as a predictive month for future restaurant trends.
According to a Nation’s Restaurant News article, this dip in restaurant sales is the largest since July, and in the event that it is trendsetting, restaurant owners should be prepared to adjust future pricing and menus, even as inflation prices decline. “When comparing November against the growth rate reported for both September and October, sales took a 1.8 percentage point drop. This November’s sales growth is the lowest posted by the industry since July’s +0.3%.” The decline was present, not only in sales growth, but in restaurant traffic as well.
The report comes just as restaurants have been able to level staffing issues and stave off complaints from customers about speed and service. Restaurants will have to balance adequate staffing with the small decline of guests, making sure to not overcompensate with staff cuts to make budgets. “The disparity between job openings and unemployment has eased since July—which recorded 11.2 million job openings but only 5.7 million unemployed workers. Full-service restaurants have also witnessed an increase in staffing levels,” states the NRN article.
Richard Weil, owner and principal of National Restaurant Consultants notes, “While inflation has eased, the effect on the consumer continues to cause steady decline in many dining categories. Simply put, restaurants must continue to stay front-of-mind by differentiating all points of service, from quality to curb appeal.”
The economic market can be unpredictable, and this is especially true while businesses still recover from the effects of the pandemic. Our restaurant consultants are seasoned professionals who can navigate these market turns with long-term vision and expertise. Contact a restaurant consultant today to prepare your restaurant for these market changes.