Foodservice Equipment Reports

Restaurant Sales Rise In March For 11th Straight Month

Restaurant sales rose again in March, hitting a new record of $45.549 billion in the advance estimate by the Labor Department’s Bureau of the Census released Monday, April 16. On an adjusted basis, sales rose 0.3% compared to February and are running 6.3% ahead of March last year. It was the 11th consecutive month of gains, according to the National Restaurant Association. Restaurant sales rose 0.5% in February versus January, BOC said, per the revised estimate. In comparison, overall retail sales, excluding autos and auto parts, were up 0.8% in March and grocery store-sales posted a similar 0.3% gain.

The data is part of the Bureau’s monthly sales estimate of retail and foodservices. It adjusts the raw data for seasonal variations and holiday and trading day differences, but does not adjust for price increases. Food-away-from-home prices rose 3% for the 12 months ended February (see following article).

For the three months from Jan.-March 2012, restaurant sales rose 7.6% from the similar three-month period in ’11. While the growth rate slowed somewhat from the past few months, the gain in March appears to indicate the rise in gasoline prices has not dramatically affected restaurant sales or traffic this year, as it did last spring. Sales in January and February were also helped by the mild winter weather in much of the nation.

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