SHFM’s 2021 Benchmarking Study Illustrates Rising Costs and Check Averages

Labor costs have increased 72.6% since 2018, while product costs have risen 39.3%.

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Courtesy of Nick Hillier on Unsplash.

The Society for Hospitality and Foodservice Management released its “2021 Industry Standards and Benchmark Comparisons” study, and it puts numbers to trends that have become apparent in the industry—including rising product and labor costs and increasing check averages.

The study examined different categories of costs in 2020 compared them to pricing in 2018. Across the board, costs rose. According to the study, in 2020, product cost per transaction increased by 39.3%, from $3.36 in 2018 to $4.68 in 2020. Labor cost per transaction increased even more significantly—by 72.6%, rising from $4.70 in 2018 to $8.11 in 2020. Total operating costs per transaction rose as well, growing 10.3%, from $14.32 in 2018 to $15.80 in 2020.

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Courtesy of SHFM.

The study also examined costs by dayparts. As with previous benchmarking reports, lunch check averages continue to increase at a steady rate. In 2020, the overall data pool average increased by 19.8%, from $5.64 in 2018 to $6.76 in 2020. Breakfast check averages continue to increase overall, as well. That average increased 21.9% since 2018, from $3.73 to $4.55 in 2020.

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Courtesy of SHFM.

As for the number of transactions worked per hour, a productivity indicator, the report showed the average in 2020 was 6.9, an increase of 4.5% from 6.6 transactions per hour worked in 2018.

“While this increase is not necessarily significant, it shows an interesting trend. In 2020 many locations were shut down, but productivity was not highly affected for those locations that stayed open,” says the report.

The SHFM “Industry Standards and Benchmarking Comparisons” study began in the mid-1990s and offers data to consider for evaluation and improvement. This year’s study compiled 332 submissions. The full study, which breaks down the numbers in more detail, is available to SHFM members.


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