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Who Says 2% Should be the CPI Inflation Target?

The inflation surge hit its zenith in June of 2022, peaking at +8.9% y/y. Fast forward nearly two years and inflation has declined to +3.48% y/y during the latest March 2024 report. While this represents progress, the problem is that recent trends have been deteriorating, prompting investor concerns that the Fed is likely to postpone any interest rate cuts. Notably, it turns out that the stock market doesn’t need rate cuts to power ahead…  

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Key Conclusion from Penn Wharton Research: U.S. Growth Requires Faster Immigration

According to Penn Wharton’s U.S. Demographic Projections, U.S. population growth is projected to decline as the population becomes much older over time. Preventing these outcomes will require faster immigration by several multiples of its current rate.

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Understanding Generational Differences in the Workforce

A very compelling Continuing Ed class we came across provided great insight into how to best deal with generational differences in the workforce. A great quote from the presentation: “Many of the interviewers did not understand my windy path through employment, which is, of course, a characteristic of my generation. They didn’t understand I wasn’t looking for one job for the rest of my life and that I wasn’t looking for money and status.”

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Restaurant Research’s Unit Economic Dashboard for April 2024

While 2023 Store-Level Margins Benefitted from Lower Commodity Costs & Higher Prices, Improving Trends Are Moderating This Year

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BurgerFi International, Inc. 4Q23: Revenue -8.3% Y/Y, BurgerFi Comps -10%, Anthony’s Comps -3%

Management expects both BurgerFi & Anthony’s will return to positive same-store sales and positive EBITDA growth by 2H24 driven by menu upgrades, an aggressive focus on food cost, and the benefits from an updated POS platform. That would be a welcome relief given the company’s -$14MM 2023 operating income loss and BFI’s -54% 1-year total return through 4/8/24 (leaving the company with a $14MM market cap).  

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Setting Some Simple Macroeconomic Objectives

After the full eclipse passed across the U.S., our thinking suddenly cleared, and we thought to list some macroeconomic objectives that would be good for Uncle Sam to pursue.

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Microeconomics 101

Sometimes it is important to review what we all learned in our intro economic classes lest we get confused by the PhDs at the Fed. Here we will review the cause of high prices & their simple cure.

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Traffic Declines Part 2

In our last analysis, we mentioned that we have yet to hear a logical explanation for the troubling trend of the persistent post-covid traffic declines which should be a major concern for every retail stakeholder. In our opinion, a look at the labor participation rate provides a clue worth exploring.

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Traffic Declines – Part 1

How can restaurant/retail traffic decline every year unless something is shrinking? We understand how traffic declined during the notorious covid lockdowns, but it seems that these declines have continued for at least the next 4 years with no definitive end in sight. Are the same number of consumers shopping less frequently? Are there fewer consumers? We have yet to hear a logical explanation for this troubling trend which should be a major concern for every retail stakeholder…

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4Q23 Chain Restaurant Same Store Sales Results

The chain restaurants reported solid 4Q23 same store sales comp results which were mostly in-line with the last several quarters. While traffic continues to represent an industry challenge, the chains have been successful in passing through menu price increases while also driving a favorable product mix. Industry players have been mostly successful in offsetting sales weakness from the lower income demo with sales growth from the more affluent. Fortunately, the possibility of interest rate cuts later this year could help spur a rebound in lower income demo spending, providing a boost to the industry, but especially to those chains most oriented towards the less affluent. 

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