While 2016 was a roller coaster of a year laden with controversial politics and reports that the restaurant industry is dying, restaurant sales across the United States still managed to grow. According to Avero’s extensive restaurant data, on a national level sales increased by 1.3% in 2016. Washington D.C. outperformed all other cities in the Avero Index in 2016 with 4.3% growth, while Chicago lagged slightly behind the national average with -0.3% growth.
In the highly-saturated market of New York, restaurants saw very modest positive sales growth in 2016 compared to 2015 (0.7%). However, uptown neighborhoods in The Big Apple saw negative growth (-1.8%), perhaps at least partially due to the lengthy construction of the Second Avenue subway deterring diners and shuttering businesses. Restaurants with average checks of less than $40 also saw a sales decrease (-1.2%), oddly in opposition to recent reports of fast-casual restaurants, which would have average checks of less than $40, being more successful. Additionally, New York restaurant dinner and late-night sales decreased 2.2%, while breakfast and lunch sales increased 2.2%.
Las Vegas restaurants also saw positive sales growth in 2016 compared to 2015 (2.7%). Restaurants with higher average checks (above $90) continue to grow in Sin City, this time as much as 3.6%. The Vice President and Assistant Director of Food & Beverage at Caesars Palace, Cory Johnson and Norman Grumbach, attribute this increase to convention business and premium beverages, among other factors.
“Guests were willing to pay higher average checks for fine dining outlets,” they said. “This allowed for growth in our premium outlets with overflow into our other outlets. Additionally, group sales grew with the increase in convention business. Guests didn’t want to just use their banquet F&B minimums in convention space, they wanted to dine in the restaurants. We were able to accommodate these groups with unique experiences.”
In line with Avero's recent prediction on the C-CAP blog, the Caesars Palace F&B executives saw an upward trend in consumer interest in premium beverage items that led to a significant beverage sales increase.
However, Vegas restaurants also saw a significant decrease in dinner and late night sales (-5.3%), even more so than New York restaurants, and that’s paired with a decrease in breakfast and lunch sales (-2.7%). Perhaps the late-night Las Vegas lifestyle hinders brunchtime activities in restaurants?
As always, we’ll keep a close watch on all these trends and much more. Check out the December 2016 Avero Index for more information on Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington D.C. restaurant sales.