The upward momentum in restaurant sales halted again during April, while employee vacancies remain a key concern for operators, a new report has found.
According to Black Box Intelligence data from TDn2K, same-store sales growth last month was -0.4 percent, with sales growth negative for two of the last three months.
The research, derived from over 31,000 locations representing 170+ brands and almost nearly $72 billion in annual sales, also highlighted employee staffing as a major issue going forward.
“April was a soft month for restaurants. Putting these results in context helps us remain cautiously optimistic about the current state of the industry,” said Victor Fernandez, vice president of insights and knowledge for TDn2K.
“First, the industry was lapping over one of the strongest months in same-store sales growth last year. When taking in a longer-term view of sales, the two-year growth rate of 0.9 percent during April still reflects a growing industry.
“Furthermore, all months since October of 2018, with the exception of February which was plagued by extremely bad weather, have reported positive same-store sales growth when compared with the same month two years ago. The average for two-year sales growth during the previous twelve months was -1.6 percent.”
Employee staffing issues also give restaurant operators little reason to celebrate.
According to TDn2K’s Workforce Index, vacancies have increased at a relatively consistent rate over the past several quarters as the number of unfilled unit level positions across restaurants escalates.
During the first quarter of 2019, 35 percent of companies reported an increase in their unfilled management positions, while only 12 percent were able to reduce their vacancies.
38 percent of companies had an increase in their unfilled hourly employee positions and only 10 percent of them made any progress reducing their vacancies.
The drivers behind these staffing difficulties continued their pressure on the industry during March.