The restaurant industry continued to regain its financial footing in June, but aftershocks from the pandemic have not yet subsided.
“The industry right now is extremely strong and booming. For many operators, they have more business than they can handle, ”said Joseph Pawlak, CEO of Technomic. The Food Institute. “But on the negative side, commodity prices are skyrocketing due to shortages and the shortage of labor is a major problem that is restricting the capacity of the industry.”
Dinner at the restaurant is back
Restaurant sales reached $ 70.6 billion in June, beating May figures by 2.3% and hitting an all-time high for the fourth consecutive month, according to data from the US Census Bureau.
Customer traffic was also almost in line with pre-pandemic figures. Traffic at casual restaurants fell below 3.8% of 2019 levels in June, according to a study by Placer.ai, reported Catering company (July 16).
This week, Yum Brands Inc. and McDonald’s Corp. reported second quarter profits that were better than Wall Street estimates. According to Market surveillanceMcDonald’s net profit totaled $ 2.219 billion, up from $ 483.8 million in 2020, while YUM’s net profit reached $ 391 million, marking a year-over-year increase of $ 185 million. the other (July 29).
Additionally, the increased spending for lunch at the Chipotle Mexican Grill suggests a return to pre-pandemic meal routines for the day. The fast-casual chain reported a 70% recovery in in-store sales last week as well as an 80% retention of digital sales, MarketWatch Noted.
Persistent inflation ahead
While promising, a significant portion of the recent dollar gain in industry sales is due to higher prices. Year on year, inflation rose 5.4% in June.
Numerator data indicates that bars and restaurants are the most popular target for discretionary spending cuts, regardless of purchasing power. If inflation continues, 74% of consumers plan to cut spending accordingly, reported The packer (July 20).
A recent survey by the National Association for Business Economics suggests that persistent supply chain and labor market constraints will cause inflationary pressures to persist for the foreseeable future, reported Bloomberg (July 26).
Pawlak notes that the persistent “debacles” of port congestion and an amplified shortage of truck drivers are critical supply chain issues that could extend this timeframe.
“Even though an actual food product and its ingredients are plentiful, finding the materials and packaging for those products is a major problem,” Pawlak said. “So higher inflation is probably there for a while. “
Navigate workforce issues
In addition to perpetual staff shortages, many restaurant workers across the country have become the target of verbal abuse and legal threats from frustrated customers, reportedThe Washington Post (July 15th). In addition, “breakthrough” infections of the Delta variant in recent weeks are prompting some restaurants to rethink their plans to reopen or require proof of vaccination.
The pandemic has also fueled a growing awareness of the pay gap between workers in the restaurant business and those in other industries. Foodservice workers are more than twice as likely to be in poverty as general workers, and the vast majority work without the right to family or medical leave, according to the 2020 State of Restaurant Workers report. .
In addition to prioritizing wage competitiveness, Pawlak believes there are other strategies operators can initiate to not only recruit talent, but also retain the staff they have.
“One [tactic] shows them a real career path within the industry or their companies, and how quickly someone can go from production worker to general manager, ”said Pawlak. Other incentives include flexible working hours, health benefits and, overall, “giving each of them a voice on how to do their jobs most efficiently”.