A significant portion of this sales and traffic growth decline can be attributed to the end-of-year holidays falling during the weekend, which erased some potentially strong weekend sales at the end of 2021. The data also suggests other factors are at play behind the latest sales stumble, such as concerns about the omicron variant of COVID-19 or consumer pullback in response to historically high inflation rates and skyrocketing restaurant guest checks.

In addition to sales and traffic softening in December, restaurants also faced difficulties satisfying their guests. The number of guests that mentioned restaurants being “short-staffed” or “understaffed” increased in the second week of December and climbed to record-high levels by the end of the year.

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