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2016’s Nasty Presidential Election Put Americans Off Eating Out

November 24, 2016

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An Olive Garden location in Reno, Nev., on Thursday, March 19, 2015. Photograph by Bloomberg via Getty Images

U.S. full-service chains such as Olive Garden, Applebee’s and Chili’s saw a steep, 5.1% drop in sales at established restaurants during the week prior to the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election, data showed on Wednesday.

While limited in scope, the data appears to back restaurant executives’ claims that the tense and tumultuous U.S. election dented their business.

“Sales were down seriously around the country,” for the week ending Nov. 6, said Malcolm Knapp, a restaurant consultant whose Knapp-Track service monitors restaurant sales and guest counts.

“The uncertainty was sky-high,” he said, adding that full-service same-restaurant sales had been down slightly for the week ended Oct. 30.


The same-store sales decline eased to 1.4% for the week of the election, Knapp said. The gyrations at high-end steak houses were even more exaggerated, he said.