Black box intelligence, a Dallas-based restaurant analytics company, saw slower sales growth and customer satisfaction nationwide, as well as in Dallas, for the month of August.
Sales growth fell after two months of gradual growth in June and July, nationally and locally. To calculate sales growth, Black Box compared metrics to pre-pandemic figures in 2019 from a data set that includes 30,000 restaurant chains in 25 cities. Nationwide sales growth was 6.1% in August, down 2% from July. The drop is likely due to the “growing number of COVID cases and wide media coverage of its delta variant,” the report States.
In Dallas, customer satisfaction has also plummeted. Through the use of natural language processing, Black Box ranks online reviews as positive, neutral, and negative, and Dallas ranked 20th out of the top 25 markets nationwide for service quality and 21st for Restaurant “atmosphere”.
In terms of sales, Dallas ranked 11th out of 25 cities for the highest same-store sales growth since 2019, and 9th for the three-month period between June and August.
Black Box Intelligence, Insights and Knowledge vice president Victor Fernandez says the first two weeks of September are already showing increased sales.
“Our data shows that sales growth is improving both nationally and for the Dallas market, the latter improving at a faster rate,” he said. The morning news from Dallas. The growth may be linked to a stabilization in coronavirus hospitalizations as the delta surge begins to ease in Dallas County.
New York had the lowest sales growth rate last month and San Francisco the second lowest. San Francisco also had the lowest score for “customer sentiment,” a quantitative data set that tracks about 190 brands to gauge customer satisfaction. Ratings are based on six attributes mentioned in online reviews: food, service, ambience, drinks, value, and intention to return.
Orlando ranked first in customer sentiment in all six areas except service, which is led by Philadelphia. On the sales front, Phoenix had the highest same-store sales growth in the country this summer, according to Black Box findings.
In its August customer satisfaction snapshot, which draws on data from 50,000 restaurants nationwide, Black Box reports that customers are only slightly more positive about the food they eat compared to to a year ago.
The small improvement in positive food endorsements, “despite the easy comparison a year ago, highlights the challenges restaurants face in food execution due to staff shortages and supply chain issues.” , indicates a press release.
Fernandez says personnel issues remain the number one concern for customers in surveys. Black Box’s job intelligence product shows that limited and quick-service restaurants have about one less employee than in 2019. Full-service restaurants have an average of six fewer servers and hosts, as well as three fewer employees. kitchen less.
Fernandez adds that Black Box’s customer intelligence product has started to track “understaffed” mentions in online reviews. Overall, “customer sentiment generally declined in quarters one and two,” he says. “Customers are talking about service and wait time issues, portion sizes and food quality issues as restaurants struggle to get their usual supply.”
The biggest drop in customer sentiment year over year was related to the restaurant’s “ambiance”, a category Fernandez defines primarily as cleanliness, but also includes appearance and decor. The past three months have seen the lowest percentage of positive mentions for the mood since the start of the year, the August report said.
However, not all types of restaurants were equally affected by the industry’s drop in sales over the past month. Limited-service, or quick-service brands, did not experience any decline in sales at all, but saw the steepest declines in net customer sentiment as they struggled to meet additional demand.
“When fears about COVID escalate, customers tend to shift some of their restaurant spending to limited-service brands and less to full-service ones,” the report says.
As Fernandez sees it, “We have found that every time the fears of COVID increase and the number of cases increases, people are not eliminating meals from restaurants, but they are picking up instead.”