Some of the largest players in the food service industry, including Brinker International, McDonald’s, Chipotle, and The Cheesecake Factory are reporting sales and guest traffic up for the first quarter of 2010. That meant good news for the rest of the sector, which had been hurting particularly badly after consumers went into recession mode last year.
The news brought back to the forefront a trend that has been observed in past recessions: restaurants tend to be the first to suffer in a down economy but also the first to come back after the worst has passed.
Over the past couple weeks more and more reports have found that the restaurant business is moving again. And as spring kicks into full gear, along with Mother’s Day, the sailing should get a little smoother for most restaurants out there.
It appears now that customers have returned to the dining scene, they are patronizing their favorite haunts first – familiarity being the first thing customers want to experience. That means restaurants should definitely target their regulars with any marketing and promotion weapons left in the arsenal as they will be the most likely to come in and visit after a long absence.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities out there for grabbing some market share. Now that the market has come back, there are definitely fewer restaurants to service it. If you are in a position to pursue new customers, now is the time while competition remains lower than it has been in past years.
Let’s hope the storm has truly passed and better times lay ahead!