OPERATIONS

NPD report: U.S. restaurant count down by 9,450 from last year

BY Staff Writer

Chicago — A Tuesday report by NPD Group said that U.S. restaurant unit counts declined by 2%, which translates to a loss of 9,450 restaurants since last year.

According to the report, most of the total unit declines were independent restaurants. Chain restaurant unit counts remained relatively stable, according to NPD research.

From April 1, 2010 to March 31, 2011, the number of quick-service restaurants declined by 1%, or 3,495 units. Full-service restaurant units, which includes casual dining, mid-scale and fine dining restaurants, decreased by 5,965 units, a 2% decline.

“The decline in independent units is the steepest we’ve seen since NPD began conducting the Spring ReCount census in 2001,” said Greg Starzynski, director, product development-foodservice. “A volatile economy, more frugal consumers, and a lack of financial backing have made it a difficult business environment for independent restaurants.”

According to NPD’s CREST report, which continually tracks consumer usage of commercial and non-commercial foodservice outlets, the declines the restaurant industry has been experiencing over the last several years are improving. For year ending May 2011, visits to U.S. restaurants held stable compared to same time year ago when visits were down 3%. Consumer spending at restaurants improved by 2% for year ending May 2011 compared with same time year ago when dollars were down by 1%.

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Tops selects next-generation POS software from Retalix

BY Staff Writer

Dallas — Retalix announced Tuesday that grocery chain Tops Markets has selected Retalix’s StoreLine point-of-sale software application to lower the cost of ownership and increase the functionality of its front-end operations.

According to Tops, the chain was looking to upgrade its legacy POS software as part of a larger initiative to enhance customer service.

“Customer service and satisfaction are our top priorities, and due to its age, our previous POS system was not effectively meeting those needs,” said Mike Metz, VP of information technology at Tops. “We chose Retalix because their StoreLine offering was the most robust and intuitive solution available on the market — giving us needed flexibility as we continually expand our customer service efforts.”

The chain-wide rollout will begin in the first half of 2012 and should be completed over the next year. The solution contains advanced Store and POS functionality and supports customer loyalty, self-checkout, fuel management, QSR and a wide variety of electronic payment services.

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OPERATIONS

Report: July card spending slowed overall, but general merchandise jumped sharply

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Atlanta — A report released Tuesday by First Data Corp., which tracks same-store consumer spending by credit, signature debit, PIN debit, EBT cards and checks at U.S. merchant locations, found that card spend growth slowed significantly in July. However, dollar volume growth at general merchandise stores, including value retail, rose 10.3%, the largest increase in 10 months, as value retailers increased merchant promotional activity and discounting to attract consumers.

According to the First Data SpendTrend analysis, overall year-over-year dollar volume growth was 7.3% in July, a sharp slowdown from June’s 8.8% growth rate. Dollar volume growth was hampered by slower increases in average tickets.

Dollar volume growth on credit cards slowed from 10.7% in June to 7.4% in July. Several discretionary retail categories such as travel saw lower credit dollar volume growth. Higher-end consumers likely limited their credit spending due to the uncertain economic climate. Dollar volume growth was spread more evenly across all payment types in July.

“Despite rising input costs from inflation, many retailers have resorted to cutting prices in order to stimulate demand from an increasingly cautious consumer base,” said Silvio Tavares, senior VP and division manager of First Data Information and Analytics Solutions. “This trend could have a negative impact on retailers heading into the peak of the back-to-school shopping season.”

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