Metro restaurant sales growth anemic in fourth quarter, despite lower unemployment

Same-store sales growth slowed for restaurants in the fourth quarter of 2015 compared to the same period a year ago, despite more metro Atlantans going to work.

Sales grew 0.8 percent in the last quarter of the year as a bumper crop of new restaurants in the city took away sales from more established eateries, said Robert Wagner, president of NetFinancials, a tax and accounting service for restaurant companies. Overall 2015 sales for the more than 100 restaurants surveyed were up 2 percent compared to 2014.

“Our survey measures sales activity only at established Atlanta restaurants open for two years or more which explains the modest sales growth in Q4,” Wagner said.

Atlanta was not alone in its slowdown. Sales for restaurants nationally  was around 0.4 percent for the quarter, according to Black Box Intelligence, a restaurant sales and traffic-tracking company. National same-store sales for 2015 increased 1.6 percent compared to 2014.

Metro Atlanta restaurants sales slowed, despite a drop in the area’s unemployment rate. The unemployment rate decreased to 4.9 percent in December compared to 6 percent in December 2014).

Wagner said he expects same-store sales to improve as new restaurants settle in and become part of the establishment.

“Once the supply of new restaurant offerings is absorbed and equilibrium is again reached, established Atlanta restaurants will see better comp sales,” he said.



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