Pent-up Demand Bodes Well for Q4 Drink Sales

Hudson RiehleThe July Restaurant Performance Index may be flat, but Hudson Riehle, senior VP of the National Restaurant Association’s (NRA) Research and Knowledge Group, is cautiously optimistic that sales at the bar in the fourth quarter of 2010 should outperform 2009 sales.

“No doubt, 2008, ‘09 and ’10 have been challenging for the restaurant industry overall, but despite the challenges, industry F&B sales will reach $580 billion this year, a record high,” he explains. “Restaurant sales are now picking up, but the underlying economic issues remain.”

Those issues – such as unemployment, home foreclosures and consumer confidence – affect drink sales at the bar, says Riehle. Looking to quarter four, however, the good news is that there’s pent-up demand. Two out of four adult consumers NRA surveyed said they’re not using restaurant services as much as they would like to, which is much higher than in recent years, according to Riehle.

“The typical restaurant customer has substantial pent-up demand for restaurant food and beverage. Consequently, when these consumers get into a celebratory time of year, they’re much more receptive to stepped-up marketing and promotional activity than at other times of year,” Riehle explains.

“With drink promotions and marketing that give the consumer a good nudge to visit the restaurant and tap into that unfulfilled demand, it’s logical that this holiday season will be better than last year’s.”

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