“We expect that consumers will enthusiastically return to foodservice in the spring, but January and February have to be considered lost dining occasions for foodservice operators,” says Technomic spokesperson.
Some 40% of foodservice operators nationally indicate that the weather since Jan. 1 has had a negative impact on sales according to a research report entitled “The Wicked Weather of 2014: The Impact on Consumers Eating Out and Operator Sales,” conducted by research firm Technomic.
That figure rises in specific geographic regions, with 53% of operators in New England and 49% in Mid-Atlantic states reporting that the weather has had a negative effect on business.
Further, consumer survey results show that many people across the country have been constrained by the weather, with 60% of consumers stating that the weather has been a drag on their normal activities and lifestyle. Again, residents of the Northeast (82%) and the Mid-Atlantic (76%) have been most affected.
Ultimately, the harsh weather conditions translate into foodservice sales being down 3-4% nationally and down 7-8% in weather-affected markets in January and February. As a consequence, full year industry projections suggest growth will be +2.5-3% versus an initially expected +3.5-4%.
“Consumers across two-thirds of the country have been reluctant or unable to leave their homes for the better part of two months,” said Wade Hanson, Technomic principal. “We expect that consumers will enthusiastically return to foodservice in the spring, but January and February have to be considered lost dining occasions for foodservice operators.”
“What is particularly troublesome is that the snow, cold, and ice are continuing into March,” explained Hanson. “The longer the weather patterns continue, the more consumers will be confined to their homes and subjected to higher heating bills and unexpected weather-related expenditures. Plus, the impact of higher heating bills may be felt into April or May.”
Additional details on Technomic’s analysis, “The Wicked Weather of 2014: The Impact on Consumers Eating Out and Operator Sales” can be obtained by contacting Chris Urban at Technomic at (312) 506-3929.