Restaurant sales decline again


Traffic and sales at the nation’s restaurants slipped in May for the second straight month, putting a squeeze on profits as costs of food supplies rose, according to the National Restaurant Assn.

About 46% of restaurant owners said their same-store sales had declined in May, an increase from 41% who said business had declined in April, according to monthly data released Wednesday by the restaurant group. About 43% said fewer customers had come in to eat, up from 39% in April.

Still, many restaurant owners had made improvements to their facilities in May, including remodeling and buying new equipment, said analyst Hudson Riehle, the trade group’s senior vice president. That indicates that owners’ overall outlook is positive, he said.

Riehle said food prices increased sharply in May, making it harder to make ends meet. Still, he said, the industry is doing better than it did during the worst of the economic downturn.

“The overall trend remains positive,” Riehle said.