Now Is the Winter of Our Foodservice Discontent

Technomic finds frigid weather, snow pummeling foodservice across most of U.S.

Published in CSP Daily News

CHICAGO -- Forty percent of foodservice operators nationally indicate that the weather since Jan. 1 has had a negative effect on sales, according to The Wicked Weather of 2014: The Impact on Consumers Eating Out & Operator Sales, new research conducted by Technomic.

That figure rises in specific geographic regions, with 53% of operators in New England and 49% in Mid-Atlantic states reporting that the weather has had a negative effect on business.

Further, consumer survey results show that many people across the country have been constrained by the weather, with 60% of consumers stating that the weather has been a drag on their normal activities and lifestyle. Again, residents of the Northeast (82%) and the Mid-Atlantic (76%) have been most affected.

Ultimately, the harsh weather conditions translate into foodservice sales being down 3% to 4% nationally and down 7% to 8% in weather-affected markets in January and February. As a consequence, full-year industry projections suggest growth will be 2.5% to 3% versus an initially expected 3.5% to 4%.

"Consumers across two-thirds of the country have been reluctant or unable to leave their homes for the better part of two months," said Wade Hanson, Technomic principal. "We expect that consumers will enthusiastically return to foodservice in the spring, but January and February have to be considered lost dining occasions for foodservice operators."

"What is particularly troublesome is that the snow, cold, and ice are continuing into March," said Hanson. "The longer the weather patterns continue, the more consumers will be confined to their homes and subjected to higher heating bills and unexpected weather-related expenditures. Plus, the impact of higher heating bills may be felt into April or May."

Chicago-based Technomic provides clients with the facts, insights and consulting support they need to enhance their business strategies, decisions and results. Its services include numerous publications and digital products, as well as proprietary studies and ongoing research on all aspects of the food industry.