Economic Sentiment: Technomic/AMEX Marketbrief Reports a March 2009 survey of 500 consumers that 16% felt economy would improve, 12% stay the same, 72% worse. 74% indicate two years or more for recovery. Restaurant visit intent frequency higher for QSR vs., casual dining. 58% of consumers noted that they probably/definitely will go to the restaurants they currently visit, but less often.
Consumer Sentiment: Gallup’s self-reported first half March 2009 spending in stores, restaurants, gas stations and online declined 11%, to $57/day, versus $64 level in January/February. In the September 2008-March 2009 period, the decline in spending for upper income consumers was –38%, versus –40% for middle and lower income consumers.
Consumer Sentiment: Booz and Company and its March Strategy/Business Magazine reported in March (building off a October 2008 survey) that consumers are staying home and shopping carefully. About 30% were already staying home more, with another approximately 50% indicating they will do so more, in the future.
Restaurant Spending: Geezeo’s MSSI Index of December/January/February 2009 restaurant spending shows a 19.8% decline at IHOP, -5.8% decline at Subway, -2.4% at Carl’s Jr. (CKE), Jack in the Box (JBX) –4.2, but with Burger King (BKC) and Sbarro higher.
Restaurant same store sales: One reputable confidential source in February showed 50% plus of chain restaurant operators with negative same store sales, but slightly fewer than in January 2009, with negative same store sales. March negative outlook outweighed positive outlook by a 2:1 ratio.
Restaurant expectations: National Restaurant Association’s Expectations index wiggled up in January but under 100 (neutral) for the 15th consecutive month. Restaurant Performance index also wiggled up in January but still well in negative territory.
Employment: People Report notes 71% of 111 units that participated in an online study said they were reducing the number of new openings or closing units. 69% of companies reducing costs by cutting back on number of managers or hourly employees, or cutting hours. 43% of chains to freeze salaries or eliminate bonuses.
Disclosure: No stock positions.