Survey says metro Atlanta restaurant sales up in fourth quarter, full year of 2011
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Business is looking up for metro Atlanta restaurants.
Same store sales were up 4.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011 over the same period in 2010, according to NetFinancials, an Atlanta company that offers tax and accounting services for restaurant companies. For the full year, metro restaurants saw a 6.25 percent rise compared to 2010.
The fourth quarter 2011 growth, however, was slower than the uptick during the first three quarters, when sales increased 5.3 percent, 7.2 percent and 6.4 percent respectively compared to 2010.
“Though consumers faced daunting economic worries in 2011, Atlanta’s restaurants managed to post impressive sales gains,” said Robert Wagner, NetFinancials president. “It is remarkable that almost 90 percent of Atlanta restaurants we surveyed revealed positive sales gains in 2011. Clearly the industry is as vibrant and relevant as ever and, we think, poised for solid growth in 2012.”
Some of the sales improvements have come from higher menu prices as restaurants, facing higher commodities costs, have passed on the increases. But operators been reticent to raise prices too much to avoid risking losing customers.
NetFinancials surveyed 71 independent metro Atlanta restaurants for the report. Of those, 78 percent had positive sales increases in the fourth quarter of 2011 while 22 percent saw their numbers fall. One-fourth of those with sales gains reported double-digit increases in the fourth quarter.
Total sales volume for the fourth quarter was about $39 million and $152 million for the year.
Restaurant operators said the improved sales were a result of more customers and larger check averages, Wagner said. The surge was felt across all sectors — fast-casual, casual and fine dining.
Karen Bremer, executive director of the Georgia Restaurant Association, said restaurateurs that she has spoken with are cautiously optimistic about the numbers. While they are pleased to see more foot traffic and bigger receipts, they remain concerned about the potential impact that continued troubles in Europe and the presidential race could have on the economy as well as customers’ willingness to keep their pocketbooks open.