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What are the NFL, Election & Weather doing to Restaurant Sales in Atlanta?

Posted by Robin Gagnon on Nov 4, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Twitter Image Template.jpgHow are sales trending in Atlanta's restaurants?  Lucky for us Robert Wagner of NetFinancials has answers from his quarterly survey which was just published this week.  The restaurant brokers have studied the data and there’s some good news along with some relatively soft results. We also have our theory on what could be impacting the sales trend.

The good news is that sales are positive on a comp basis to last year.  The bad news - they are only 1.3 percent ahead of the same time period last year. Compared to the national trend however, it looks downright robust since Atlanta was at plus 1.3% above last year while nationally, restaurant sales actually declined 1.0%.  That's a 2.3 percentage point swing in favor of the ATL. 

Wagner also called out what he considers ‘bright spots” in the survey results.  According to him, “restaurants with lower check averages including pizza, barbeque and Mexican-themed concepts reported better-than-average comp sales in Q3.”  That’s seems to align with what the restaurant brokers are seeing in the data from our clients and national trends where pizza continues to thrive.

What are the reasons for the slow down this quarter?  Here are few reasons that the restaurant broker’s believe we could be seeing down trending data in restaurant sales.  l.

NFL viewership has declined 15% so far this season.  We’ve all seen the countless surveys about the source of the fall-off in viewership but regardless of why, it’s a double digit decline. That affects restaurant sales in a big way.  Think of all the alcohol and food consumed in celebration of America’s one-time favorite game.  With viewership down 15%, that means fewer people are making it to their favorite sports bar to hang out, watch the game, order some wings and run up a bar tab.  

The flip side of this coin is that the World Series numbers are setting new viewership records.  If the same trending holds true in the other direction, fourth quarter should see a pickup in those same sports bars when numbers for October and November’s World Series games are published.

The Election.  We are days away from the presidential election. It comes around once every four years and it is stressful.  A recent report in Time Magazine cited a well-known psychologist who said that the presidential election season may have us all “emotionally exhausted.”  If that’s the case, you’re not dining out and you’re probably just ordering a quick pizza.  We’ve definitely seen that reflected in the recent numbers. At that same time that national numbers are weak, Papa Johns reported that their domestic same-store sales we up 5.5 percent in the quarter ended Sept. 25.

Heat in July and August.  The second quarter results included a hot summer in the city where it might have been easier to dine at home rather than go out. This is a standard "go-to" for why restaurant and retail sales are ever up or down but it’s true that the weather plays a role in how many people make it out for dinner.

What are your ideas about other reasons restaurant sales might be down nationally?  Chime in on this blog and let’s hope next quarter gets better.

For a full copy of the latest survey results from NetFinancials, contact Robert Wagner, CPA, president of NetFinancials, Inc. Email: Direct: 404-874-7002.  The NetFinancials quarterly Atlanta restaurant sales survey is provided as a public service to the restaurant industry.


Topics: Buying a Restaurant