business news in context, analysis with attitude

Axios reports that "Americans are spending more money at restaurants than on groceries - and the gap has been widening … People spent 20.7% more at restaurants than they spent on groceries in 2022 - and that figure rose to 29.5% in the first two months of the year, per Commerce Department data compiled by JLL.

The story suggests one possible reason:  "Inflation has been battering consumers on both fronts — restaurants and groceries — so people probably figure they won't save much money by eating at home. So why not go out?"

KC's View:

During the pandemic, when grocery store sales shot up and restaurant sales cratered, it was an article of faith here that if supermarkets wanted to hold onto those sales, they were going to have to be both aggressive in their efforts and ambitious in their vision.  Restaurants would come back, I argued, and supermarkets could not be complacent about the shift.

These numbers suggest that this is exactly what has happened - that too many retailers enjoyed the fruits of pandemic-prompted shifts without doing the hard and necessary work to keep that business.  Some of it, of course, always was going to return to restaurants;  people were hungering to go out.  But I think that many supermarkets could've done a better job of keeping the customers and dollars that they attracted during the pandemic.