Restaurant sales struggled in November, according to Black Box Intelligence, which shared the information in a post on Nation’s Restaurant News this week. The stumble coincides with both rising cases of COVID-19 and colder weather that has made outdoor dining unrealistic.
From Black Box Intelligence:
Same-store sales growth was -10.3%, which represented a 3.8 percentage-point drop from October’s year-over-year sales growth rate. November’s -16.3% same-store traffic fell by 3.3 percentage points compared to the previous month’s performance. This was the worst month for the industry since August based on year-over-year losses in sales and traffic.
Sales worsened throughout November, with same-store sales during the last week of November the worst the restaurant industry has experienced in almost four months. Black Box Intelligence suggests this could mean we are “in the middle of a new restaurant downturn.”
These numbers arrived the same week the National Restaurant Association shared new findings on the restaurant industry via a letter sent to Congressional leadership. In that letter, the Association noted that restaurants of all types are in “economic freefall,” with sales declining and more layoffs and furloughs expected in the coming months.
Without large-scale measures, like a relief package from Congress, the restaurant industry’s situation will only get worse, particularly since we’re only at the beginning of winter. Outdoor dining options won’t be possible for at least a few months in many places. Off-premises channels, like delivery and takeout, are important, but as we discussed at length this week, running a restaurant entirely through these channels is economically and operationally challenging for most businesses.
Black Box Intelligence did note that despite poor sales in November, guest satisfaction was higher. Positive reviews of restaurants online grew by 7.0 percentage points compared to the same month in 2019. Intent-to-return scores have almost returned to pre-pandemic levels.