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May 25, 2022

Restaurant Industry Performance Pulse: May 25, 2022

Restaurant Traffic Erosion Persists Despite Stronger Year-Over-Year Sales

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Data through the week ending May 15, 2022

  • Restaurant sales growth remained virtually unchanged compared to the previous week and has been relatively stable since the middle of March. The industry continues to experience positive sales growth year over year, but at a much smaller rate than the double-digit growth rates seen during the first two months of the year. 
  • Despite a significant improvement in year-over-year traffic growth during the week, the industry faced its 10th consecutive week of negative traffic growth.   
  • To keep track of sales and traffic week to week and understand how you are performing compared to the market, subscribe to Financial Intelligence. Subscribers will know the results of the previous calendar week each Friday. Click here for more information. 
  • Two weeks into May, the segments with the largest average check growth year over year were family dining, casual dining and fast casual. All segments continue seeing check growth much higher than the pre-pandemic norm. However, fast casual and fine dining are experiencing a slowdown in their check growth compared to April. 
  • The segments with the strongest sales growth during the week ending May 15 were fine dining, upscale casual and fast casual.  
  • The only states with negative sales growth during the week were Mississippi, Alaska, Louisiana and Iowa. The best performing regions based on year-over-year sales growth were New England, the Mid-Atlantic, California and the Western region. The regions with the weakest sales growth during the week were New York-New Jersey, the Midwest, Southwest and Texas.

Limited-Service Hourly Wages Rising Rapidly; Large Regional Differences Exist 

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  • As of March, limited-service restaurants experienced record-high increases in hourly wages for their hourly crew. Since the staffing crisis started last Spring, restaurants (and many other businesses) ramped up operations as part of the economic reopening, only to find a shortage of available employees. Hourly wages started accelerating at an increasingly rapid pace. 
  • By March, hourly team members and shift leaders in limited-service brands were seeing year-over-year percentage increases in hourly wages in the high teens. 
  • But as with much of the workforce data throughout the last two years, there are significant regional differences in how much wages have increased throughout the country. One of the contributing factors, in addition to the heavy market pressures, is the fact that half of the states are set to increase their minimum wage during 2022, with most of those increases happening at the beginning of the year. 
  • Some of the states that have experienced the biggest growth in median wages for shift leaders in limited-service restaurants are Nevada, Georgia, Idaho, Utah, Missouri and Virginia. 
  • States in which hourly wage growth has been much more moderate (although in most cases higher than the typical increases seen in the past) are New York, Washington, South Carolina, Texas and Louisiana. The District of Columbia has experienced a low increase in its hourly wages. 



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