Sales

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Sales Jump Shows Guests Will Pay More

Chipotle Sales Jump Shows Guests Will Pay More

by David Klemt

Close up of calculator buttons

Chipotle’s latest earnings report may show that guests are willing to pay more at their favorite restaurants.

In Q3, the fast-casual giant’s net sales grew by nearly 22 percent. Per reports, same-store sales rose by just over 15 percent.

Is it possible that Chipotle’s earnings—which exceeded Wall Street estimates—indicate that guests will tolerate price hikes?

Rising Costs

No, it’s not a “hot take” to state the obvious: Everything is more expensive.

All operators and managers are aware that costs are rising across the board. Beef, chicken wings, cooking oils… Prices are increasing and the trend is expected to continue.

Not that any of us need a real-world example, but Chef Brian Duffy shared on episode 53 of the Bar Hacks episode that he now has to price a pound of chicken wings at $13.

One reason that Chipotle made the choice to raise prices comes down to rising beef prices. Another is increased freight costs.

As every armchair economist knows, when a business’ costs rise that increase falls on its customers.

The reason is fairly simple: If prices remain the same while costs rise, the situation becomes untenable, the business doesn’t generate enough revenue, and doors close.

So, Chipotle’s decision was simple. The fast-casual chain announced in June that menu prices would increase by about four percent to defray rising costs.

Rising Wages

Chipotle’s June announcement followed one the company made in May.

Six months ago, Chipotle announced the hourly wage for their restaurant workers would increase to $15 by June.

How did the company afford to raise hourly wages, offset ingredient costs, and deal with rising freight rates? The aforementioned menu price hike.

Now, Wall Street didn’t seem to anticipate backlash toward Chipotle for increasing their prices. However, plenty of other people have said—and still say—that customers won’t support restaurants or bars that raise prices.

It appears that a significant percentage of brand-loyal customers will remain loyal and continue to support the businesses they like even through price hikes.

Is This the Way?

I’ll address a crucial detail: Chipotle is a fast-casual brand valued at close to $52 billion.

They’ve got incredible brand recognition and tremendous purchasing power. Reportedly, there are 2,857 Chipotle locations in the United States. In fact, the company announced in February of this year that it planned to open 200 more locations this year.

So, no, there’s not a direct comparison to be made between Chipotle and an independent restaurant or bar.

However, that doesn’t mean there’s no lesson to be learned here.

Chipotle was transparent about the reasons for their price hikes. The Great Resignation has shined a spotlight on wages, and Chipotle addressed that concern.

The pandemic has also unleashed havoc on supply chains. Again, Chipotle was forthcoming about the challenges the company was facing.

Moving forward, it may be wise for restaurant and bar owners to address menu price increases. There does seem to be some level of understanding among the more rational guests out there that if they support increased wages for hospitality workers; understand supply chain challenges; and know costs are up for everything, they’re going to see price hikes.

You very likely need to raise at least some of your prices. When you do so, consider telling your guests why. You may be surprised by the support you receive.

Image: fancycrave1 from Pixabay

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Canadian On-premise Sales Stabilizing

Canadian On-premise Sales Stabilizing

by David Klemt

Canadian flag in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada

A report from Restaurants Canada and Nielsen CGA shows that on-premise sales are steadying and, in some provinces, growing.

In fact, with the exception of Alberta being slightly down, Canada’s nationwide sales velocity looks promising in comparison to 2019.

Overall, Canada’s on-premise velocity is on the rise. Let’s take a look at how the three main provinces KRG Hospitality services are performing.

Alberta

To say that Alberta is down is a tad misleading. The province’s performance is nearly on par with 2019.

In comparison to 2019, Alberta is just -1 percent below in velocity levels.

Now, in comparison to 2020, the province is +46 percent. However, 2019 is a far more accurate gauge of performance.

While being down one percent is on the surface negative, growth in Calgary and Edmonton is highly encouraging.

In the week to August 21, Calgary’s velocity rose +4 percent, while Edmonton grew +10 percent. Those two cities are responsible for overall growth in velocity in Alberta of +4 percent.

Should the upward trend continue, Alberta will match and surpass 2019 quickly.

British Columbia

Of the three key provinces in which KRG Hospitality operates, BC is the second-best performing in comparison to 2019. Against 2020, BC is the third top performer.

Per Restaurants Canada and CGA, BC velocity is up +12 percent in comparison with 2019’s sales. The province is up +33 percent when compared to 2020.

In Vancouver, velocity is flat rather than experiencing negative growth. Any negative trends, according to the Restaurants Canada and CGA report, is coming from Victoria. That city is down -6 percent.

Ontario

Of our key Canadian markets, Ontario is performing the best overall.

Compare velocity to 2020 and the province is up +48 percent. In comparison to 2019, Ontario’s velocity is up +13 percent.

One can attribute current growth to Toronto. The Ontario city’s performance in the week to August 21 is +4 percent.

Canada

According to the report, sales velocity in Canada is up +2 percent overall.

Compare the country’s overall performance against 2020 and 2019, and Canada is trending upward. The nation’s on-premise velocity is up +41 percent in comparison to 2020 and +11 percent against 2019.

Clearly, the expectation is for the country’s on-premise performance to experience further growth as consumers return to in-person dining and restrictions loosen.

However, it’s important for operators to not simply return to pre-pandemic operations. Consumer behaviors have changed and many pandemic-driven habits—delivery, for example—are now permanent.

Further, now’s the time for those considering proceeding with plans to open restaurants, bars and hotels to move forward. In fact, Travis Tober, the guest from our milestone 50th episode of Bar Hacks, believes there’s no better time than now to open a hospitality venue.

Image: Lewis Parsons on Unsplash

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