Restaurant Trends February 2022

US Quick-Service Trends

Throughout 2021, we compared sales, traffic and average check trends to pre-pandemic 2019 data. As we enter 2022, we believe overall trends have stabilized and will analyze data using the traditional YOY metric.

Following is a snapshot of QSR sales, traffic and average check trends for January 2022.

  • In January 2022, average check was up 7.5% compared to the same period in 2021.
  • Sales in January 2022 were down -0.8% compared to 2021. Traffic has been steadily decreasing over the past few months. QSRs finished January 2022 down -7.7% compared to January 2021.
While the January blues are normal, the rapid spread of the Omicron variant in late December 2021 caused a cautiousness that carried over into January, likely playing a factor in the decreases in QSR sales and traffic trends.

Another potential cause for the dip in performance is excessive pricing and RMS is monitoring closely. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, prices at limited-service restaurants increased by 8.0%, continuing to surpass full-service increases of 7.1%. If February trends don’t bounce back despite Valentine’s Day and Super Bowl demand, it may be an indicator that customers are managing their check by buying fewer or less expensive items when purchasing food from restaurants.

On a positive note for restaurant operators, Food Away From Home (restaurant prices) increased by 6.4% YOY in January, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, while Food At Home (grocery prices) increased at an all-time high of 7.5%. As a result, consumers may question whether cooking at home saves money. Restaurant operators have an opportunity to communicate the value of ordering in vs. cooking at home.

As COVID-19 cases decline throughout the US, we are hopeful that customers will regain confidence in eating out. We will continue to observe QSR sales, traffic and average check trends, so be sure to subscribe to our mailing list to get insights and monthly industry trends delivered straight to your inbox.

Consultant’s Corner

How can you adjust and adapt your restaurant menu to combat inflation?

In this time of inflation, how can restaurant operators effectively adjust and adapt their menus? Industry experts, including RMS’ Richard Delvallée, provide insights on how to strategically take price, as well as key tips for maximizing your menu. Read Back of House‘s recent article to learn more.

How do customers REALLY feel about their most recent restaurant visit?

The pandemic created levels of volatility never seen in the restaurant industry. To help operators better understand how customers are feeling now, RMS asked over 800 US respondents to share their level of satisfaction after recent dine-out occasions. For those that were unsatisfied, we asked about specific concerns. Download the report to learn what is irking customers now and RMS’ advice on how to combat their pain points. Sign up to our subscription list to have consumer reports sent straight to your inbox.

RMS is ready to support restaurant brands through these ever-changing times. Reach out to us today for practical strategies designed to optimize menu profitability, sales and financial health.

Related resources