Report: Gas prices hurt restaurant sales, traffic in February

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Rising gas prices contributed to a weakening in restaurant industry same-store sales and guest traffic in February, according to the latest Restaurant Industry Snapshot from Black Box Intelligence.

The monthly report is garnered from the tracking of 73 distinct restaurant brands and more than 12,000 units that are clients of Black Box Intelligence, a financial and market data sister company to People Report, the Dallas-based workforce data, analytics and consulting firm. The Restaurant Industry Snapshot also includes the Restaurant Industry Willingness to Spend Index from Consumer Edge Research, which is a monthly household survey of over 2,500 consumers.

February's report found that industry same-stores increased 2.5 percent — with both food and alcohol sales up for the month. Guest traffic, however, fell 0.10 percent. Both metrics were down from what started as a strong February, according to Wallace Doolin, chairman and founder of Black Box Intelligence, and former chairman or chief executive at restaurant chains including T.G.I. Friday's and Buca di Beppo.

"The story for the first half of February was strong comps driven by weather rollover for 2011, while the second half of the month produced some concerns regarding the recent spike in gas prices at the pump and how that is hurting the restaurant consumers wallet, ” Doolin said.

 

This also resulted in a decline in the Restaurant Industry Willingness to Spend Index, which had been at 8-month high in January, the report found.

Watch Bill Schaffler, chief operating officer for People Report and Black Box Intelligence, discuss the February results:

Contact Charlie Duerr at charles.duerr@penton.com.