A Real Food Fight: Restaurant sales beat out grocery store sales for first time ever

It’s December 2014, and the U.S Census Bureau has just reported that for the first time on record, monthly restaurant sales have exceeded monthly grocery store sales. Fast forward to April of 2015, and restaurant sales are continuing to exceed those of grocery stores.In fact, from July of 2014 to April of 2015, a $3.1 billion dollar shift in sales from grocery stores to restaurants occurred, which is almost as much as the last 4.5 years combined.
The billion-dollar question many people are asking, is what, or who, is to blame (or thank) for the dramatic shift in sales? Here are a few specific factors as to why people are getting the check, and ditching the cart:

1.) Lower Gas Prices

Believe it or not, less pain at the pump has resulted in a willingness to spend that money elsewhere – particularly on dining out. In fact, almost half of people surveyed attribute their willingness to purchase meals, snacks, or beverages from restaurants, fast food places, and coffee shops to lower gas prices, according to the National Restaurant Association.

2.) Financial Security

As the economy continues to show signs of post-recession growth, people are feeling more comfortable opening their wallets and swiping their credit cards, especially when it comes to eating out. In fact, one-third of people say they are patronizing restaurants more often now than they were one year ago.

3.) Higher Wages

With unemployment rates falling and campaigns for a higher minimum wage plaguing major U.S cities, people are earning more money, and investing it in the restaurant industry. In fact, Americans ages 15 to 24 saw their household income rise 10.5 percent in 2013, the age group that also happens to spend the most money on dining out.

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First reported in an article by Bloomberg, there is one stipulation to consider when comparing the sales of restaurants and grocery stores; the data doesn’t include the sales of big-box stores like Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corporation, and Costco Wholesale Corporation.

Although these stores have been excluded from the study, the data serves as an example of the evolution that has occurred in American eating habits, and how the grocery industry is going to have to adjust to accommodate the change in lifestyle across different generations.

[News] Small Businesses Find Profit in Customer Loyalty

Here’s a highlight of some of the top local-business-related news of the week:

Small Businesses Find Profit in Customer Loyalty

News Source: MediaPost

A joint study released by BIA/Kelsey and Manta this week found that small business owners are finally starting to invest in customer retention and brand loyalty.

61% of participants reported that more than half of their annual revenue comes from repeat customers, and noted that repeat customers spend 67% more than new customers.

86% of surveyed entrepreneurs spend the majority of their annual marketing budget to retain customers rather than acquire new customers, and 80% spend most of their time and effort fostering repeat business.

While small businesses are focusing their marketing efforts on retention rather than acquisition, they’re still lagging behind on the loyalty program front. Only 34% of respondents have a program in place, and most of these programs are offline, making it difficult to gauge success.

Key Takeaway: Acquiring new customers is both costly and challenging, so it makes sense that business owners are investing in strengthening existing customer relationships. However, without making good use of technology to track retention efforts, small businesses are missing out on valuable data that could help them assess which efforts are working and which aren’t. Protip: Constant Contact provides a great suite of tools that will help you keep customers engaged and allow you to track your efforts.

[Social Media News] Google+ Brand Posts See Twice as Much Engagement as Twitter Posts

News Source: Mashable

Everyone in the marketing community loves to hate on Google+, but a new survey from Forrester Research provides reason to take the social network more seriously. According to the 60,000-participant survey, 22% visited Google+ within the last 30 days—equivalent to the number of visitors on Twitter.

Furthermore, the study investigated more than 3 million user interactions with over 2,500 posts by brands and found that Google+ post engagement is much higher than engagement on Twitter, and almost as high as post engagement on Facebook.

Key Takeaway: To borrow words from Forrester researcher Nate Elliott: “If you’re not actively marketing on Google Plus, it’s time to start.”

[Social Media News] LinkedIn Retiring Products and Services Tab on Company Pages

News Source: Business 2 Community

LinkedIn announced this week that they’re retiring the Products and Services tab on company pages as of April 14th. To date, this tab has been the place where businesses have been able to showcase their goods to potential employees and customers.

Two relatively new features have made the old Products and Services tab obsolete:

  1. The introduction of Company Updates
  2. The launch of Showcase Pages

Both features require an active involvement from the business in lieu of a static description.

Key Takeaway: Think of this change as an opportunity to illustrate your business’s products and services dynamically. Instead of a boring text blurb, you’re now able to share links, photos, and promotions with your LinkedIn followers. You’ll be more likely to engage your followers and better equipped to showcase your unique offerings.

Other news catch your eye this week? Leave a comment and let us know!