- Public full-service restaurant companies posted sales gains during Q3 2022 compared to Q3 2019, according to Bloomberg Second Measure.
- The Cheesecake Factory, which purchased Fox Restaurant Concepts in 2019, had the biggest sales increase at 33% growth, followed by Cracker Barrel at 27% and Darden Restaurants at 22%.
- Compared to the year-ago quarter, The Cheesecake Factory actually saw a 2% decline, while Cracker Barrel was up 10% and Darden was up 5% year-over-year.
This uptick in sales compared to pre-pandemic levels reflect the growing impact of inflation and rising menu prices on company operations. Full-service meal prices were up 8.8% during the last 12 months compared to an increase of 7.1% for limited service, according to the Consumer Price Index.
During the summer, The Cheesecake Factory implemented a $4.25 price increase, pushing the menu’s year-over-year pricing increase to 7.5%, executives said during the company’s Q2 2022 earnings call. In addition to wage inflation, the company saw commodity inflation increase 200 basis points due to spot pricing in dairy and produce, CFO Matthew Clark said. Traffic for the chain was up by 5.7% during the quarter as on-premise traffic has recovered, he said.
Cracker Barrel benefited from the highest quarter-over-quarter customer retention, according to Bloomberg Second Measure. The chain faced similar conditions during its fiscal Q4 2022, its most recent quarter. Comparable restaurant sales were up 6.1% compared to the prior year due to a 7% pricing increase, Cracker Barrel SVP and CFO Craig Pommells said during the company’s September call. For its fiscal 2023, the company expects comp sales to be largely driven by about an 8% uptick in annual pricing.
Darden also increased pricing, but not high enough to match inflation. Its pricing was up 6.5% during its fiscal Q1 2023 while inflation was up 9.5%, but executives expect the gap between the two to have peaked during the quarter. Bloomin’ also hasn’t increased pricing high enough to meet inflation, preferring to retain its value over sales. Its sales rose 13%, and it had the highest average sales per customer for both online and dine-in orders, according to Bloomberg Second Measure’s data.