Foodservice Equipment Reports Fortnightly

Welcome to FER Fortnightly Online Newsletter
February 23, 2010

Regulatory Report:
Sponsored by:
Manitowoc Foodservice
Doggie Bags Still Okay In D.C.
Smoking Bans Debated In Kansas, Missouri
States Step Up Allergy Awareness
Obama Budget Boosts Food-Safety Efforts

Industry Report:
Sponsored by:
A.J. Antunes & Co.
New Prototype Scales Down Chipotle
Burger King Plans 250 To 300 Net New Units, Opens In Russia
NRA Announces Kitchen Innovations Honorees
DQ Blizzards To Hit Egypt, Macau
Carl's Jr. Eyes Texas
Hatco Marks 60th Year With Corporate History

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In This Section:
MAFSI Barometer Falls 12.8% In Q4, Matching Record Drop
NRA Performance Index Improves To Best Level Since Early 2008
NPD Reports U.S. Restaurant Units Declined In Second Half 2009
Mid-Atlantic, Colorado To Lead Sales Growth In 2010
Revised FER 2010 E&S Forecast Available

This issue's Regulatory ReportSponsor: Manitowoc Foodservice
Industry ReportSponsor: A.J. Antunes & Co.
Economic Report Henny Penny

By Robin Ashton

MAFSI Barometer Falls 12.8% In Q4, Matching Record Drop

The Business Barometer maintained by the Manufacturers’ Agents Association for the Foodservice Industry declined sharply again in the fourth quarter last year, matching the 12.8% record decline reported in the second quarter of ’09. It was the fourth straight quarter of double-digit declines for the Barometer—sales were off 11.5% in the third quarter—and the eighth straight quarter in which equipment and supplies sales growth has been negative.

The quarterly MAFSI Barometer charts sales of like equipment and supplies lines compared to year-earlier periods for manufacturers’ reps across the United States and Canada.

Among the product categories, equipment sales were down most sharply, falling 14.8%. Furnishings sales fell 10.5%, durable supplies 7.9% and tabletop 5.4% during the quarter. The equipment-sales decline was a record.

As for regional breakouts, sales in the West continued to suffer most, falling 17.8% during the quarter. Sales were down 15.6% in the Midwest, 11.6% in the South and 8.7% in the Northeast. Overall sales were down 13.4% in the United States. As has been true throughout the downturn, Canada fared best, with sales falling only 5.5%.

Reps appear to be somewhat more optimistic about prospects this year than last, forecasting a more moderate 6.9% decline in first-quarter ’10 and a 3.9% decline for the year ahead. But reps responding to the survey also report they continue to see fewer consultant projects and are quoting fewer jobs.


Section sponsored by Henny Penny

NRA Performance Index Improves To Best Level Since Early 2008
Strong gains in same-store sales and customer traffic helped the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index jump nearly a point in the December 2009 survey, to 98.7. It was the highest level since February ’08.

So things are improving. But still, it was the 26th month the RPI remained below the 100-point dividing line between expansion and contraction. And in contrast to same-store sales and customer traffic, the two capital-goods spending markers continued to decline.

A 2.7-point gain in current same-store sales and a 2.5-point rise in the customer-traffic component helped the four-component Current Situation Index move 1.4 points higher. But the percentage of operators who said they made a capital purchase in the preceding three months fell again to only 31%, a record low. The marker tracking such spending fell another half point to 96.1.

The Expectations Index was up 0.4 point. The improvement was mainly in higher optimism for improved future same-store sales, business conditions and staffing prospects. Anticipation declined for capital purchases in the coming six months. The percentage of operators planning a capital purchase fell to 39%, down from 41% in November.

Section sponsored by Henny Penny

NPD Reports U.S. Restaurant Units Declined In Second Half 2009
Perhaps the surprising news is that fewer restaurants haven’t closed, given the ferocity of the current declines in restaurant sales and traffic. The NPD Group’s biannual ReCount census reports that the total number of units in the United States declined 0.3%, or 1,652 units, for the six months ended November 2009 compared to the same period in ’08.

The fall-off was less severe than the 1% decline in units reported for the first half of ’09. The data was reported Feb. 4 in Nation’s Restaurant News online newsletter. Even with the decline, the total number of U.S. restaurants stands at 578,353 locations.

Overall, the number of full-service units fell 0.3%, while quick-service locations were down 0.2%. As a whole, chain-unit counts were flat in the period compared to year-earlier levels. Major chains (500 or more units) grew unit counts 1%, with both full-service and quick-service chains showing 1% gains. Mid-size (110-499 units) and smaller chains (50-99 units) suffered the most with both categories down 2%. Small chains were flat, and independents were down 1%.

Information on NPD research products is available at

Section sponsored by Henny Penny

Mid-Atlantic, Colorado To Lead Sales Growth In 2010
We promised last issue to look at some of the regional and state forecasts for restaurant-sales growth, as detailed by the National Restaurant Association in its 2010 Restaurant Industry Forecast. Perhaps surprisingly, NRA believes the Middle Atlantic region will grow the fastest this year, with sales predicted to rise 2.6% in nominal terms. New York and New Jersey, the third and tenth largest states in terms of restaurant-dollar sales, are forecast to grow sales 2.7% in ’10. Pennsylvania, the other state in the region and the seventh largest in sales, is forecast to grow 2.4%. Overall restaurant sales are predicted to grow only 2.3% in current dollars.

Among the states, Colorado is forecast to have the fastest growth this year, with sales expected to rise 2.9%. Idaho is predicted to grow 2.8%, and Utah 2.6%. Overall, the Mountain region is forecast to grow 2.4%, matching the South Atlantic as the second fastest growing region. While states such as Arizona and Nevada have led state growth in past years, both are predicted for much more moderate 2% growth in ’10.

The two regions still forecast to feel the brunt of the recession are the East and West North Central regions. The former is expected to lose 1.4% of its jobs and grow restaurant sales only 1.8%. The West North Central is forecast for a 2% sales gain. The states with the slowest growth include West Virginia, up only 0.8%, Kansas, up 1.4% , and Michigan, forecast to grow 1.6%. Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Mississippi and Vermont are also expected to have growth below 2%

The NRA 2010 Forecast is available for purchase at It includes not only detailed segment, state and regional forecasts, but also a host of information on food, food cost, consumer, menu and operations trends.

Section sponsored by Henny Penny

Revised FER 2010 E&S Forecast Available
Foodservice Equipment Reports magazine, the paper-based stablemate to FER Fortnightly, rolled out a newly revised version of its FER 2010 Equipment and Supplies Market Forecast at MUFES, our biennial Multiunit Foodservice Equipment Symposium, last week. The new forecast includes updated information on general economic, operator, materials and E&S-pricing trends, as well as hard-number forecasts of E&S sales at the manufacturer level for ’07-’13. For those who previously purchased the forecast or attended our Presidents’ Preview or Webinar forecast meetings last year, we did not revise the actual E&S forecast from our last revision in November ’09.

The revision is available in PowerPoint format for $349. Those who have attended past FER forecasts or other meetings, or have purchased the forecast in the past, will receive a $50 discount. For information, e-mail Robin Ashton at or Chris Palmer at, or call the magazine’s office at 800/986-9616.

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