Two reports from research firm GuestMetrics indicate a gentle if slow upswing in on-premise trends.
Traffic was just slightly positive during the 4-week period ending 10/5, enough to raise year to date figures to almost flat for the year. While traffic still was struggling to meet last year’s level, overall on-premise food and beverage sales were up 3% in the latest four weeks, an improvement on year to date trends .
Casual dining traffic was up 0.5% over the latest four weeks counted versus down just under a point for the year; bars and clubs remained weak with traffic down just less than 2% for the latest 4 weeks and just over 2% for the year (down 2.2%). The fine dining segment slowed, with traffic down about 1.5% the latest four weeks.
In terms of beverages, beer volume was down about 3.5% in the latest four weeks measured, equivalent to the year to date trend. Beer sales were up 0.7% in the latest 4 weeks, but flat for the year after a strong July and August were followed by a weak September. Premium light share continued down (1.8%) in the latest 4 weeks vs -1.9% for the year; craft gains slowed to 1.6%, below its 2% year to date gain. Fastest growing segments were IPA which had a share gain of 1.4% and cider which had a share gain of 0.6%.
Guestmetrics also reported a gain in spirits on-premise. After declining nearly 1% during the first six months of 2014, volumes were up 0.5% during the third quarter. However, trends softened throughout the quarter, going from up 1.7% during the four weeks ending 8/10 to up 0.6% during the most recent four weeks ending 10/5.
Year to date spirits sales are up 1.7% in the on-premise, up 2.6% for the third quarter, with dollars up a stronger 3% for the four weeks ending 10/5. Dollar sales were driven by a combination of higher price and trade up to higher priced spirits, the firm said. Brown spirits generally out-performed white spirits in the latest four weeks - bourbons and blends volumes up 12% and brandy/Cognac up 5%. Vodka volume was down 3%, rum down 6%. Craft spirits continue to gain share, up about 2% in the third quarter.