July was a strange month for restaurant e-commerce.  The NRA’s Restaurant Performance Index rose to 100.6 in June after dipping to 99.9 in May. RPI values above 100 indicate that key industry indicators are expanding, while figures below 100 indicate contraction.  eMarketer reported that e-commerce continues to grow slow and steady.  Given that news, it is not surprising that 85% of operators reported sales improved or stayed the same from June.  But commodity prices, usually a bell weather for restaurant prices, moved higher and higher, unemployment remains stubborn and financial markets lurched with uncertainty. These factors should slow To Go sales, the back bone of e-commerce.

So who’s right- restaurants or the rest of the economy? The answer is probably that both are right.  Check out the Ordr.in Restaurant E-commerce Survey results below for the explanation.  Sales are up and optimism for continued success are improving, but so is hiring. Restaurant spending is generally correlated to economic growth but the macro trends that support restaurant e-commerce are strong.  More and more people shop online for lunch and dinner and restaurant e-commerce options are improving. 

The industry-specific tail winds are overpowering the micro-economic head winds.  This was not the case a year ago when sales slumped across the board.  Hopefully we are experiencing the start of positive momentum.  I am curious to see if this month’s optimism is rewarded.

How was business in July versus June?

How do you expect business to be in August versus July?

How was hiring in July versus June?

Oh, and we almost forgot to congratulate Delivery 4 U of Champaign-Urbana, winner of the free car topper for the July Survey.  Don’t despair- you’ll have another chance to win next month.