Restaurant outlook: People not going out to eat as much

A clean-eating restaurant will open in Centerville this year. CONTRIBUTED
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A clean-eating restaurant will open in Centerville this year. CONTRIBUTED

Restaurants in Ohio brought in almost $1 billion in sales last year, but consumers didn’t go out to eat as much in the first month of 2017.

A new survey by the Ohio Restaurant Association and the Cleveland Research Company found restaurant owners saw weaker consumer demand in January after a strong fourth quarter that ended in December. That increase was due in part to the mild winter weather.

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The study tracks the food-service industry and its performance in Ohio. In the fourth quarter, same-store sales for restaurants in Ohio were up more than 3 percent, but that growth didn’t continue into 2017. In January, same-store sales for restaurants were up 1.6 percent, which was lower than any month in 2016.

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“Same-stores sales in Ohio during the fourth quarter were positive for our industry, up more than three percent as we experienced mild weather and strong traffic around the holidays,” said John Barker, president and CEO of the Ohio Restaurant Association. “Growth slowed in January, but owners are bullish about the year due to strong consumer confidence and a soaring stock market.”

Restaurant owners who were surveyed said they are optimistic in 2017, and expect a 4 percent increase in same-store sales, compared to the 3 percent increase last year.

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