Full-service sales rebound, up 55% in Q4: Toast Restaurant Trends Report

Total 2021 restaurant industry sales up 41% year over year

Full-service restaurant sales rebounded in Q4 2021, up 55% from the prior-year same quarter, according to an inaugural quarterly Restaurant Trends Report from Toast. The point-of-sale (POS) and technology platform for restaurants pulled data together from 57,000 locations as of the end of 2021.

Toast notes that the restaurant industry has been significantly impacted by COVID, but industry stakeholders have been resilient. This includes restaurant operators, employees and suppliers.

Total full-year restaurant sales grew 41% year over year. As measured by gross merchandise volume (GMV) on same stores, comparable sales also grew 41%. Notably, the totality of stores aggregated in the analysis by Toast have recovered, growing comparable sales by 6% when comparing Q4 2021 to Q4 2019.

Consumers are dining out once again, helping boost the recovery. On-premises dining sales grew 70% in Q4 2021 from the same quarter in 2021 and 55% from the same quarter of 2020.

Carryout orders and delivery look to be a permanent part of the industry landscape. In totality, to-go orders increased 59% in Q4 2021, compared to Q4 2019.

Full service restaurants (FSRs) are benefiting from a higher growth-rate than limited-service, suggest data from the Toast Restaurant Trends Report. This is partly because of how much more significantly they were impacted from COVID; and also because diners miss the full-service experience. Consequently, FSRs grew year-over-year sales by 55% in Q4 2021. Limited-service restaurant sales (LSRs), conversely, grew 30% across the same time period.

The South is resurging more robustly than other regions. It increased year-over-year sales by 12% in Q4 2021. Over the same period, the West grew sales 5%; Midwest, 4%; and Northeast, 0.4%.

According to the Toast Restaurant Trends Report, European, Middle Eastern and Breakfast cuisine styles experienced the highest growth in sales. European cuisines grew by more than an average of 58% GMV in Q4 2021 year over year.

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Additional insights from Toast

  • Increased Employee Productivity with Technology: Labor shortages continue to be a challenge in the restaurant industry. However, technology tools are helping restaurants improve employee productivity. Indeed, productivity has increased. The typical restaurant on the Toast platform processed 4.5% more transactions per employee hour worked in Q4 2021 than in Q4 2020. Toast suggests employees are able to be more productive with mobile ordering at the table and handheld point-of-sale. Meanwhile, guests are getting their food faster.
  • According to the Toast Restaurant Trends Report, European, Middle Eastern and Breakfast cuisine styles experienced the highest growth in sales. European cuisines grew by more than an average of 58% GMV in Q4 2021 year over year.
  • Renovations and new equipment are among the top three needs for financing. Many restaurants utilized new capital for short term cash flow, day-to-day operations, and renovations. These made up for 28%, 20%, and 17%, respectively, of financing needs in 2021. Uses of cash, notes Toast, exemplifies the creativity and innovation of restaurant operators in tough times.

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