Restaurants Received A Huge Revenue Boost On Black Friday Weekend

Restaurateurs have something to celebrate at long last. Though post-pandemic expectations remain precarious at best, the Thanksgiving weekend fueled hope for the holiday season and, potentially, into the coming new year. In what Nation's Restaurant News calls record sales numbers, the retail sector overall raked in an astounding $9.12 billion in online sales on Black Friday, followed by another record-breaking record $11.3 billion on Cyber Monday. And that's just online shopping; when adding in-store sales, QSR Web reports a total of $35.27 billion spent on Black Friday alone. So, how did restaurants fare within that retail segment?

Pretty good, it seems. Shopping is big business, with a record-breaking 196.7 million Americans opening their wallets from Thanksgiving day through Cyber Monday, and 123 million of those shoppers visiting physical brick-and-mortar stores, per the National Retail Federation (NRF). And shoppers inevitably get hungry. They're out and about anyway, so why not tuck into a warm, cozy restaurant with someone else doing the cooking and cleaning? That's apparently how a whole lot of people felt, whether shopping or enjoying a long weekend with family and friends.

How huge was that restaurant revenue boost?

Mastercard SpendingPulse, which measures sales activity within the Mastercard payments network, reported that restaurants were key drivers of the Thanksgiving weekend retail sales growth, landing an impressive 23% increase. The next highest segments fueling growth came in considerably lower, with apparel taking 14% and electronics at 2%. Senior advisor for Mastercard, Steve Sadove, noted how those three strongest-performing sectors indicate that consumers were extending holiday shopping into all-day experiences.

Diners picking up holiday gift cards likely boosted restaurant sales, notes Nation's Restaurant News, which cites typically high gift-card sales statistics from Credit Suisse. Inflationary prices inevitably resulted in higher overall spending as well, with Mastercard noting that its totals are not adjusted for inflation. Nonetheless, dining and drinking establishments remain hopeful, especially given that the increased revenues are apparently not just driven by holiday sales. The National Restaurant Association reported that its Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) rose 0.8% in October 2022, pushing the index to 101.9. Anything over a 100 RPI indicates that key industry components are expanding rather than contracting.

Additional upward trends show positive leanings for what the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics calls the "food services and drinking places" sub-sector of the retail industry. The Bureau posted preliminary data on December 2 suggesting that the sub-sector, which includes various types of restaurants and bars, gained 62,000 employees in the prior month of November. That is about twice the size of October gains, according to Nation's Restaurant News.