Restaurant Sales Growth Continues to Slow

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Fine dining was one of three segments with positive year-over-year traffic growth, though Black Box Intelligence attributed the increase to low guest count last year due to the pandemic. Courtesy of Carlos Lindner on Unsplash.

While restaurants still are exceeding last year’s sales, the sales growth rate has slowed “considerably” in the last four weeks, according to Black Box Intelligence’s latest Restaurant Industry Performance Pulse.

The slowdown also continues to be reflected in guest count. Traffic is now in its fifth consecutive week of negative year-over-year growth and “remains the biggest challenge for restaurants,” says Black Box.

Three segments came out of the week ending April 10 with positive year-over-year traffic growth: fine dining, upscale casual and family dining. However, Black Box notes that this is due to those segments being more negatively impacted by COVID-19 at this time last year. The segment with the softest traffic growth was quick service, which fared the best during the pandemic.

In addition to traffic challenges, Black Box says rising menu prices also are a significant concern. The segments with the biggest jumps in average checks during the week were fine dining, fast casual and family dining. Average checks increased the least for upscale casual and quick service.

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