FOODIE CONSENSUS (Positive Consensus/Bear Market Indicator): More Americans eating out

March 12, 2015

A sign of a strong economy is that it becomes hard to get a reservation at your local eating establishment. Recent spending data at restaurants as measured by the Commerce Department’s retail report show that annualized sales increased a seasonally adjusted 13.7% from September to January. That’s the strongest five-month stretch since December 2006, and a level only exceeded in the past 25 years in mid-1994 and late 1992.

Similarly, the department’s personal-spending report shows that consumers boosted outlays at restaurants by an annual 9.5% pace in the same September-to-January time frame. The increase in what consumers spent at restaurants in the waning months of 2014 was also the strongest since 2006.

The logic is sound. As more people get jobs or feel more secure in their existing job, they become more willing to spend some disposable income. In the US the rate of job creation has been quite solid and entrenched over the past year and a half. Job creation has been solidly over the 200,000 level benchmark. This might be enough to get the Federal Reserve to start increasing interest rates in the next few months, which could cause stocks to pull back.