October 18, 2016

Restaurant Sales Outpace Grocery Store Food Sales

business chartsThe latest US Department of Commerce released some interesting news last week when it comes to the food industry.  In 2015, the sale of food at restaurants surpassed food sold at grocery stores for the first time.  Last week’s report shows that in September 2016, sales at grocery stores has increased 2.1% over September 2015 while ‘food services and drinking establishments’ (under which restaurants fall) grew at 6.4% over a year ago.

Of course that doesn’t tell the entire story.  Restaurants had actually slumped in the preceding months causing some to question whether the restaurant industry was headed to a industry-specific recession.  While we won’t know for sure whether this is a one-time bump or a new baseline; the fact that restaurant sales have surged so significantly over grocery sales is perplexing.  Some economists argue that this is a sign of strong consumer confidence which will hopefully bleed into strong holiday sales across the board.  Alternatively, others argue that the September bump in restaurant sales is an indication of back-to-school/back-to-real-life craziness and consumers’ choosing to take the easier and less time-consuming manner towards feeding themselves and their family.  If that’s the case then, does that then mean that consumers’ will continue to choose convenience – and/or items that make cooking more convenient – time and time again over food prepared at home?

The data is certainly interesting even if it doesn’t give us a clear answer one way or another.  As the saying goes – time will tell – but, as always, the food industry remains an every changing industry.

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