Mike Dempsey reports at Nation’s Restaurant News that nearly all public restaurant companies reported fourth-quarter same-store sales results this month, and winter storms and lingering economic pressures pushed most into negative territory. Some, mainly because of value messaging, moved in a positive direction.
For the fourth quarter, or the quarter ended closest to December for companies on a non-calendar fiscal year, quick-service chains on average posted a larger same-store sales decline than any other restaurant industry segment. Quick-service chains were hurt by rising unemployment as well as comparisons with a year earlier when sales trends for fast food were still stable. Casual-dining chains still struggled for customer traffic in the fourth quarter, but some same-store sales results did ease from a year ago. On average, pizza chains and coffee and snack brands were able to post positive same-store sales in this harsh environment, while the fast-casual segment, which is typically the fastest-growing segment, posted, on average, a same-store sales decline of 0.8 percent. That was mostly driven by a double-digit drop of 11.9 percent at Cosi.
The averages were based on all chain reports for the latest quarter, including international operations.
Quick service: Average segment same-store sales result: -4.7%
The segment finally started to take some hits from the recession. Arby’s fourth-quarter same-store sales were down 11 percent at North American stores compared to a year ago, while Wendy’s North American comps declined 3 percent.
While Wendy’s fourth quarter numbers were down, the company said its 99-cent spicy chicken nuggets and new fish sandwich helped sales jump 0.3 percent in January to open the first quarter.
Arby’s said its January corporate same-store sales improved, declining 7.4 percent, as it rolled out its $1 value menu to more than 2,500 restaurants.
Sonic blamed severe winter weather for systemwide same-store sales that dropped 12 percent to 14 percent in the second quarter. The Oklahoma City-based company said nearly two-thirds of the decline can be attributed to record snowfall around the country, including Texas and Oklahoma, where more than a third of the chain’s restaurants are located.
Read More at: Nation’s Restaurant News