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Takeaway: Knapp Track Casual Dining sales track BLS employment growth data for the full-service industry. We are bearish on $DRI, $BLMN, $TXRH & $BWLD

Employment data released this morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggest near-term strength for Quick Service and Fast Casual trends.  The outlook for Casual Dining seems less positive.  Employment trends within the industry suggest a possible sequential deceleration in same-restaurant casual dining sales. Knapp Track Casual Dining sales data track BLS employment growth data for the full-service and leisure and hospitality industries.  Within casual dining, we are bearish on DRI, BLMN, TXRH, and BWLD.

BLS DATA IMPLYING SLUGGISH CASUAL DINING COMPS - knapp vs leisure   hospitality1

 

BLS DATA IMPLYING SLUGGISH CASUAL DINING COMPS - knapp vs full service emp growth1

Employment by Age

Employment growth among the 20-24 YOA cohort, which has been highlighted by many QSR and fast casual management teams as an important source of demand, accelerated to 3% year-over-year in September from 1.3% in August.  Employment growth among 55-64 year olds decelerated, sequentially, in September to 3.6% from 4.4% in August.  If this deceleration were to continue, it would be a negative signal for casual dining sales.

BLS DATA IMPLYING SLUGGISH CASUAL DINING COMPS - Employment by Age

Industry Hiring

The Leisure & Hospitality employment data, which leads the narrower food service data by one month, suggests that employment growth in the food service industry may have tracked sideways-to-down in September.  On a sequential basis, the Leisure & Hospitality employment data registered a month-over-month gain of 11k (second chart below).   As the first chart of this post illustrates, the trend of employment growth within the Leisure & Hospitality seems to be stabilizing at roughly 2%. 

Sequential Moves

  • Leisure & Hospitality: Employment growth at +2.3% in September, down 7 bps versus August
  • Limited Service: Employment growth at 3.9% in August, down 15 bps versus July
  • Full Service: Employment growth at 2.5% in August, up 13 bps versus July

BLS DATA IMPLYING SLUGGISH CASUAL DINING COMPS - employment growth

 

BLS DATA IMPLYING SLUGGISH CASUAL DINING COMPS - leisure   hospitality

 

Howard Penney

Managing Director

Rory Green

Analyst