Restaurant Trends January 2021

Forget the new normal. We’re now in the next normal, and we are optimistic that it will be better than the old.

RMS remains committed to providing our industry with insights that will guide us into and through “new,” “next” and better.

US Restaurant Trends

The following represents data collected as of December 27th. While the first two weeks of December showed a drop in traffic and sales likely due to the continuous rise in COVID cases, trends in the US improved during the holiday season as predicted in our previous report. Traffic and sales increases were not as significant as those reported during Thanksgiving week, but still comparable as consumers looked to restaurants for at-home meals during the last two weeks of 2020.

QSR v. TSR Traffic Growth

  • QSR traffic was down 13% YOY in the first two weeks of December; a significant decrease from November when traffic was even YOY. The gap closed to -8% YOY during the last two weeks of December.
  • TSR performance continues to trend downwards, dropping from -40% YOY to -43% YOY. The last time TSR traffic was this low since the pandemic was in June 2020. 

QSR v. TSR Sales Growth

  • QSR sales remained positive through December, particularly during the holiday weeks, with sales going from 0% YOY to +3% YOY.
  • TSR YOY sales continue to decrease as sales went from last month’s -40% YOY to now -44% YOY.

YOY Traffic by Day Part

  • Breakfast YOY traffic took a hit from last month’s -14% YOY and is now trending again at -21% YOY.
  • Lunch YOY traffic is the only day part that saw an improvement during the month of December as traffic jumped from -13% YOY to -9% YOY.
  • Dinner YOY traffic also took a hit going from 0% YOY to -12% YOY during the first two weeks of December. However, trends show that some homes opted for restaurants at dinner time during the holidays as trends jumped up to -6% YOY at the end of the month.

YOY Traffic by Revenue Channel

The YOY trends are observed for QSR restaurants.
  • Delivery saw a slight decrease in traffic from +54% YOY to +41% YOY, while Drive-thru saw improvements from +16% YOY to +24% YOY. 
  • Dine-in remains stable at -43% YOY.

Consultant’s Corner

Power Panel: 2021 consumer trends & investor questions restaurant brands don’t want to miss

Hosted by senior contributor Alicia Kelso, we are joined by Piper Sandler‘s Nicole Miller ReganRival Technologies‘ Andrew Reid and RMS‘ Joel Davis. Our expert panel takes a look at what restaurant trends operators should keep in mind as we enter 2021. Watch the full episode here. Missed one of our previous episodes? Access our Revenue Stream playlist.

Be Nimble, Be Quick: What Consumers Want in 2021

The old nursery rhyme, “Jack be nimble, Jack be quick” could sum up the actions of successful restaurant operators in 2020. And, based on our recent survey of 830 US consumers, it’s likely a good mantra for 2021. Take a deeper look at what consumers want this year featured in Modern Restaurant Management.

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

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