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Overview of customers and a waitress in restaurant interior

Upserve, a restaurant point of sale, payments and analytics provider, analyzed daily food and beverage sales for thousands of restaurants in the U.S. in 2017 and found a number of interesting patterns throughout the year. Unsurprisingly, food sales accounted for the bulk of all restaurant menu item sales, with a large spike occurring on New Year’s Eve, followed by a low dip, by as much as 38 percent, throughout the month of January.

In addition, it expanded labor turnover research conducted for Q3 2017 (reported in its inaugural industry report, The Pass), and in this report, is releasing findings on turnover for all of 2017, by region, and by position.

Armed with this forecast, restaurants can reduce waste, optimize labor, and improve guest experience the whole year round.


The goal of this restaurant sales forecast is to give restaurateurs greater visibility into sales patterns – both on a national and regional scale – so that they are able to better prepare for ebbs and flow in traffic, and operate more efficiently.

Armed with this forecast, restaurants can better plan staffing needs and order appropriate levels of inventory, thereby reducing waste, optimizing labor, and improving guest experience the whole year round.


A Post-New Year’s Slow Down

It’s no surprise that New Year’s Eve is a huge event for the restaurant industry, followed by a quiet period. Just how dramatic the drop can be might startle some.

Overall, food and alcohol sales at restaurants plummeted after the New Year’s Eve high, according to data pulled from thousands of restaurants across the U.S. in 2017. Those data reveal that nationwide food sales decreased by as much as 26 percent between January 1 and the lowest sales day of the previous year, January 7.

In all, January tends to bring a lull in sales for restaurants. But a rebound arrives in February, or more specifically, the Saturday after Valentine’s Day, at which time we saw a 37 percent increase in combined alcohol sales, and nearly 40 percent growth in food sales.

restaurant food trends

Q1 Takeaways: A Post-Holiday Slump Rebounded By A Celebration Of Love

  • Whether people have committed to a “Juiceless January” (ringing in 2018 with a full month of sobriety), or are sticking to their resolutions to eat healthier or cut their spending. Sales decreased by as much as 38 percent, based on 2017 data. However, this trend should wear off by mid-February, when couples flock back to restaurants for Valentine’s Day.
  • Call it the perfect storm: college basketball, St. Patrick’s Day and beer. On March 15, beer sales hit their highest point of the year.
  • Throughout March, restaurants saw a steady increase of nearly 4 percent in food consumption in all regions except the Northeast, where restaurant guests drank more beer, but ordered less food, through March Madness.

Hungry for more sales data? Download the full forecast report here.

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When she's not debating with her young sons about which Star Wars character is the best one, Carol Lin is likely to be ordering a Lychee martini and spicy tuna roll at her neighborhood sushi joint. She loves controversial (but delicious) foods like foie gras and haggis, and believes there’s few problems that a conversation over buffalo wings and cold beer can’t solve.
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