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On a relative basis, Malcolm Knapp is reporting casual dining sales numbers that are modestly positive for the industry. In absolute terms things are still challenging.


For May 2009, same-store sales were down 6.7% versus 4.9% in April. On a two-year basis same-stores sales improved sequentially from 3.5% to 3.1% in May. Importantly, the traffic trends look even better. May traffic is being reported down 6.0% versus 6.0% in June. The two-year traffic trends improved 100bps to down 4.4%. Last year, May sales trends were heavily influenced by the stimulus checks and it was the best performing month of the year.


The spread between the best and worst week for May is -1.5%, with the first week being the best and the last week being the worst. This trend would suggest that as gas prices rose during the month, sales trends suffered.


It's interesting to see that traffic trends were better than sales, as the month was heavily influenced by deep discounting.