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Weather Impacts Restaurant Sales and Traffic

How do changes in local weather and weather forecasts affect restaurant sales? A lot, says a recent National Restaurant Association report.

Changes in the weather impact sales

In the 2011 Restaurant Operator Survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association last month, it was found that majority of restaurant operators across the country are often affected by changes that happen in weather conditions. Of these operators, 96% are fine-dining restaurateurs, 93% are from family-dining restaurants, 94% are from casual dining, 96% are from fast-casual restaurants and 98% are from fast-foods.

“The effects of the weather on restaurant operations vary, depending on the type of restaurant that is being operated,” said senior vice president of the association’s Research and Knowledge Center, Hudson Riehle. “Destination restaurants located in areas with bad weather conditions will definitely suffer in terms of sales volume and customer traffic; while restaurants that are situated in shopping centers might prove to benefit from bad weather—consumers flock to the malls during these times and spend time shopping and dining.” People are said to love to eat and gorge on the delicious fares that restaurant chefs, in their outstanding chef apparel, prepare during cold weather.

Weather forecasts affect restaurants, too

“The same goes with weather forecasts,” continued Riehle. “Bad weather forecasts make tourists alter their travel plans to a certain destination. This is particularly frustrating when the weather actually turns out fine.” 87% quick service restaurants say that weather forecasts impact their sales and traffic, 91% are fast-casual restaurants, 91% are casual-dining, 89% are family dining operators and 90% are from fine-dining.

In a separate study, restaurant solutions provider Blue Sky Local.com accounted that 75% of U.S. restaurants report a sales plunge of at least 10% because of adverse changes in the weather. More than 40% of these restaurants say that the sales drop goes up to 20%, which translates to a loss of as much as $31,200 in potential revenue every year.

How restaurants should cope

Industry experts advise that to be able to safeguard revenue, restaurants should prepare against such external factors by way of financial analysis and planning–periods of increased or decreased traffic should be properly recognized so that the impact of weather on foot traffic will be quantified, allowing restaurants to adjust staff scheduling, target their marketing events and effectively plan for the weather’s impact on their same store sales.

Weather also modifies demand for certain hot weather and cold weather menu items that chefs in functional chef apparel prepare—restaurant diners are more likely to order hot soups, coffee, ice cream or cocktails depending on the weather. Short-term marketing opportunities should be accurately identified as well, in order to reach clients—promotional vehicles such as email campaigns, text brigades and social media promotions.