Knapp released his casual dining same-restaurant sales estimates for March comparable sales and traffic growth. The Knapp data do not jive with Black Box Intelligence’s numbers, likely due to the many discrepancies between the indices, but suggest a sequential improvement in March from February as all five weeks that impacted last month’s data had positive comparable sales growth. That said, some noise in the data, as Easter fell on March 31st 2013 versus April 2nd 2012 and spring breaks shifted year-over-year, makes it difficult to discern exact magnitudes of the sequential moves in comparable sales and traffic growth.
Black Box Intelligence reported that March 2013 same-restaurant sales grew +0.5% while comparable traffic trends declined -2%. This results differed significantly from the Knapp results, detailed below.
Knapp Sequential Moves
March estimated Knapp Track same-restaurant sales growth came in at +2.2%. If the accounting period number is unchanged from the estimate, that will imply a sequential change in the two-year average trend of +200 bps. This would be the greatest acceleration in two-year average trends since January 2010 but follows the -240 bps deceleration seen in February, which was partly caused by the impact of weather.
March estimated Knapp Track same-restaurant traffic growth came in at +0.7%. If the accounting period number is unchanged from the estimate, that will imply a sequential change in the two-year average trend of +180 bps. This would be the greatest acceleration in two-year average traffic trends since January 2010 but follows a weak February deceleration of -250 bps.
Casual Dining Stocks Continue to Outperform...In Fewer Numbers
Casual dining stocks continued higher in March. We have found it interesting that the number of casual dining stocks outperforming the S&P 500 has dropped off a cliff in the last week. While this could be a normal correction after a period of strong performance, the general trend in casual dining same-restaurant sales growth has been negative and would suggest that casual dining stocks – on average – could see a longer period of underperformance if the general malaise in casual dining sales trends continues.