Thursday, July 30, 2009

Restaurants and The Recession

Every time I go out to eat these days - and I probably go out more than most people since I entertain for business - there are lines, people waiting, crowded bar areas. The first thing I think is "Recession? What recession?"

And if you were to gauge the economy this way I think one might think the recession is mostly over, or less than reported. But there are some counter-intuitive things going on here:

  • Fewer Seatings - Restaurants are reporting fewer turns per table per evening, meaning they might be getting only a single round of eaters instead of two, or even higher. And that one seating happens at "prime time", making the place look crowded as usual.
  • More Munchies, Less Dining - A lot of those people in the bar are having a drink and appetizers where before they would stay for a full course. Revenue per patron is actually lower even if the number of patrons in the place looks the same.
  • Fewer Weeknights - Even with less money to burn people are still going to go out once in a while, have dates, etc., especially towards the weekends. What you are not going to see is the "additional" eating out on other random nights out for the week for the hell of it. During my business dinners recently I find that things are pretty empty on Monday nights.
Add in the fact that places have lowered prices, are holding specials, coupons, etc. and we see a business that is having a tough time, although it might still be hard to get a table every once in a while.
Update: Restaurants Have 22nd Month of Decline

No comments: