Restaurant sales remained elevated in February
Eating and drinking places* registered total sales of $92.7 billion on a seasonally adjusted basis in February, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
While that was down more than $2 billion from January’s downward-revised reading of $94.8 billion, it was nearly $3 billion above December’s seasonally-adjusted sales volume of $89.8 billion.
The seasonally-adjusted sales readings in January and February were well above the trendline established in 2022. While this could be partially due to the influence of atypical seasonal factors, the unadjusted data continued to show positive results compared to year-ago levels.
Taken together, total eating and drinking place sales in January and February were more than 19% above the first two months of 2022.
Pent up demand ticked lower
Coinciding with an uptick in sales during the first two months of the year, the National Restaurant Association’s measures of pent-up demand edged lower. Forty-one percent of adults say they are not going out to restaurants as often as they would like, according to a survey fielded March 10-12, 2023. That was the lowest level reported since before the pandemic.
Meanwhile, 33% of adults say they are not ordering takeout or delivery from restaurants as often as they would like. That was essentially on par with consumers’ reporting in surveys fielded in May 2022 and September 2022.
Members of Generation X are the most likely to say they aren’t using restaurants enough. Fifty-three percent of Gen Xers say they are not eating on premises at restaurants as often as they would like. Less than 4 in 10 baby boomers, millennials and Gen Z adults reported similarly.
Gen Xers (42%) are also the most likely to say they are not ordering takeout or delivery from restaurants as often as they would like.
*Eating and drinking places are the primary component of the U.S. restaurant and foodservice industry, which prior to the coronavirus pandemic generated approximately 75% of total restaurant and foodservice sales. Monthly sales figures presented above represent total revenues at all eating and drinking place establishments.
Read more analysis and commentary from the Association's chief economist Bruce Grindy.