After seeing an encouraging improvement in traffic to full service restaurants and bars during the four weeks ending 11/03, traffic has fallen back to its weakest level since February during the most recent four weeks, says recent reports from GuestMertics.
During the 4 week period ending 12/01/13, traffic to full service restaurants and bars fell to -3.3%, a marked slow-down from the -1.3% seen during the 4-week period ending 11/03/13, and well below the -1.8% for the first 11 months of the year.
All three channels saw year over year traffic slow during the 4-week period ending 12/01 compared to the prior 4-week period: traffic to bars/clubs is -7.1%, a fairly sharp decline from the -4.6% seen during the prior 4-week period; casual dining saw traffic at -3.6%, also a dramatic downtick from the -1.2% seen in the prior period; and fine dining’s traffic slipped further into negative year over year territory at -1.1% after being at -0.6% for the 4-week period ending 11/03.
As wrote about recently, traffic to on-premise is seeing particularly weak levels during the late night day-part (after 10pm), down 8.5% for the first eleven months of 2013 compared to the prior year. With particular weakness in traffic to bars/clubs during the late night day-part is likely a reflection of younger adults remaining under significant economic pressure.
The broader slow-down in traffic to overall full service restaurants and bars is likely due to a confluence of factors: (a) a natural fallback from the artificial bump in traffic during the previous 4-week period caused by pent-up demand from the end to the government shut-down, (b) cannibalization of holiday shopping from more retailers being open on Thanksgiving Day (when shoppers likely are not eating/drinking at restaurants) from the normal Fri/Sat/Sun shopping period following the holiday, (c) potential scaling back in eating/drinking out behaviors to accommodate buying gifts in a holiday shopping period that is 18% more concentrated (6 days shorter) than last year and (d) overall weak consumer discretionary spending during November which was also reflected in overall retail sales.