Our most recent survey of ORA members, conducted by the Cleveland Research Company, is packed with great data. We asked our restaurant members to share information every quarter, and their responses represent the breadth of our industry - from independents to caterers and chains. Here are a few highlights:
From a sales perspective, 90% of our members expect a positive growth of 4.4% in same-store sales in 2018. This would be better than the 3.1% average same-store sales posted in Ohio during 2017.
This positive view was supported recently when Technomic reported sales across the USA surged 6.3% in January. The Technomic Chain Restaurant Index showed the largest restaurant chains increased the momentum they gained late in 2017. The increase included +3.7% in traffic, as consumers continued to dine out more often.
The combination of higher wages and lower unemployment across the USA, plus better consumer confidence, overcame cold and blustery weather in January. This improving trend was not the same across all segments of the restaurant industry, though, as certain categories grew strongly (quick service and fast casual) and others struggled. We also know new restaurants continue to open and pressure customer traffic at existing locations.
This follows a good fourth quarter of 2017 when our members said same-store sales in Ohio were up an average 3.4%, including 2.8% traffic. This was one point better than sales in the third quarter of 2017.
Looking ahead, 50% of our members expect a benefit to their business from the tax rate reductions.
Finally – the Amazon effect: ORA members who responded to our survey said 44% of them are buying supplies from Amazon, up from 39% in 2017. The key reasons: convenience, price and delivery speed. Amazon is one of the most disruptive forces we’ve ever seen in business, which will require restaurant owners to evolve in ways they never imagined.