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Technomic: Restaurant industry slowed in August

The firm’s “Tindex” index suggests restaurants slowed 1.9% in the month, the likely result of the delta variant.
Technomic restaurant sales
Restaurant sales slowed in August, according to Technomic./Photograph: Shutterstock

There’s more evidence to suggest that the delta variant, and perhaps labor and other challenges, are slowing the restaurant industry’s recovery.

The restaurant industry declined by 1.9% in August from the same month two years ago, according to the “Tindex,” the monthly index on the state of foodservice from Restaurant Business sister company Technomic.

That represents a slowdown from the 1.1% growth in July and the 1.8% growth in June over 2019 numbers.

It suggests the business has taken a hit from the delta variant and potentially a labor shortage that has resulted in shortened hours at many restaurants of all kinds. “There are a few clear reasons for this softening,” Technomic Managing Principal Joe Pawlak said in a statement.

“First, of course, is the increased fears of the delta variant. The deceleration is also seen mostly within the travel and leisure segments, whereas the K-12 and college and university channels have shown growth.”

The August Tindex comes amid mixed reports on a potential slowdown. The National Restaurant Association said this week that it has evidence that the industry is heading in the wrong direction because of delta and some restaurant executives have said their dine-in sales have been hit because of the latest surge. But overall sales appeared strong in August and same-store sales rose 6.2% in the month, according to Black Box, though traffic remains down.

Technomic reports its Tindex monthly and is comparing results from 2019. Tindex includes inflation and is built using various datasets, including operator transactions, consumer visit tracking and distributor sales information. The data is then weighted and evaluated to align with a representative of the total foodservice industry.

Technomic reports its Tindex on a base of 100, so the Tindex in August based on a comparison to 2019 was 98.1. In July it was 101.1.

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