• Staffing Woes Cut Restaurant Hours, Personal Spending Rises, Wedding Boom Boosts Demand

    Staffing Woes Cut Restaurant Hours

    A combination of staffing struggles, supply shortages and rising costs have dramatically reduced operating hours of U.S. restaurants from before the pandemic. The issue not only is frustrating loyal customers but can make it harder for restaurateurs to meet rents, payrolls and other overhead.

    A new report from Chicago-based restaurant analytics firm Datassential said that during October the nation’s 763,000 brick-and-mortar eateries saw an average reduction in weekly operating hours of 7.5% from the same month of 2019. That’s 6.4 fewer hours per week, researchers said.

    “This means consumers today have fewer eating options than they used to, and restaurants must generate more sales in a shorter window to match their pre-COVID levels of business,” a Datassential statement said. The firm also cited work from home as cutting into restaurant foot traffic, especially on weekdays.

    The company said a mid-October check of its food service database, tracking more than 10 million venues worldwide, showed 58.6% of U.S. restaurants have reduced operating hours since 2019, while just 19.8% increased them. Weekly operations for independent restaurants dropped an average of 7.5 hours, while full-service casual chain venues are down 8.9 hours from 2019.

    National chains with the steepest drops in weekly hours include Denny’s at 30.1, Texas Roadhouse at 21.2, IHOP at 17.7, Subway at 16 and Einstein Brothers at 14.2. Those with increased hours include Wendy’s at 21.2, Crumbl Cookies at 3.8, Boston Market at 2.7, Jack in the Box at 2.4 and In-N-Out Burger at 2.2.

    Among regions tracked by Datassential, Washington, D.C., saw the steepest drop in weekly restaurant hours at 12.5, followed by Vermont at 11.3, Maine at 9.8, New York at 9.5 and Connecticut and Minnesota at 9.2. Alaska was the only state showing increased hours, at 2.7.

    Personal Spending Rises

    Personal income rose 0.4% or $78.9 billion from the prior month in September, but was outpaced by personal spending, which increased 0.6% or $113 billion amid stubbornly high inflation, the Commerce Department reported Oct. 28.

    The department’s personal consumption price index, excluding food and energy, rose 0.5% from the prior month and increased 5.1% from September 2021. With food and energy factored in, personal spending was up 0.3% for the month and 6.2% for the year.

    Officials said personal income gains in September came primarily from increases in work compensation. The big contributors to higher spending included housing, utilities, international travel and air transportation.

    Wedding Boom Boosts Demand

    There's a U.S. boom in weddings that had been postponed during the pandemic, and the results are in the estimated $68.7 billion that will be spent in 2022 at event venues, floral shops, jewelry stores, restaurants, clothing boutiques, bakeries and photography businesses tied to nuptials. That's more than double 2020’s $25.7 billion.

    A report from online diamond marketplace Rare Carat crunched 2021 Labor Department data and found New York leads all states for economic effect now being created by weddings, including employment numbers and wages paid in wedding-connected industries. New York event planners, for instance, now earn on average $78,490 annually, while the average florist’s pay of $36,200.

    Also in the top five for wedding business impact are Washington, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Hawaii.

    According to Rare Carat and the Wedding Report, an industry research firm, an estimated 2.5 million U.S. weddings are set to take place in 2022, the biggest number since 1984, and October is the most popular month to get married. Couples on average will spend an estimated $24,300 to tie the knot this year, and total U.S. wedding spending is expected to surpass pre-pandemic 2019 levels by $16.4 billion.

    Source: www.CoStar.com