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National Restaurant Association - Weather often a barometer of sales, traffic

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Weather often a barometer of sales, traffic

More than 90 percent of restaurant operators indicate that changes in local weather conditions affect their sales and customer counts, new National Restaurant Association research finds.

According to the association's 2011 Restaurant Operator Survey, 93 percent of family-dining, 94 percent of casual-dining and 96 percent of fine-dining operators questioned said changes in the weather impacted their businesses. Additionally, 96 percent of fast-casual and 98 percent of quick-service restaurant operators said weather affected their businesses.

"Weather affects various operations differently," said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the NRA's Research & Knowledge Center. "Say you have a destination restaurant and the weather conditions where it is located are bad. Obviously, sales volume will suffer. Conversely, if a restaurant is located in shopping center, those same conditions could actually boost sales, especially if the weather causes more consumers to spend their time shopping."

The research further found that weather forecasts also can impact sales and traffic at restaurants. Of those questioned, 87 percent of quick-service, 91 percent of fast-casual, 91 percent of casual-dining, 90 percent of fine-dining and 89 percent of family-dining operators said weather forecasts have an impact on their respective businesses.

"It's not just the weather, but weather forecasts that affect business," Riehle said. "If a restaurant is situated in a weekend destination location and the five-day forecast indicates there will be bad weather in the area, tourists may make other plans and not travel to that destination  ‑ even if the weather actually turns out to be fine. Weather forecasts can definitely dampen sales for certain restaurant operations."

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