Restaurants in the US experienced an increase in guest traffic during April, but saw a reduction in consumer spending, according to the latest MillerPulse survey. The monthly survey, which tracks operator sales and sentiment from the Nation’s Restaurant News (NRN) and leading analyst Larry Miller, found that same-store sales were roughly flat in April, up 2.7% against a 2.8% rise in March. Against the same period in 2010, same store sales climbed slightly by 0.8%. Miller told NRN: “Overall we’re seeing a pretty good trend, but we’re in one of those periods where things are really unclear. Will the decrease in check be an issue in three to five months? We don’t know. “There could be a large storm cloud forming, but it could also dissipate.” The survey, which includes responses from 125 operators from major chains and regional brands, found that all five day parts showed positive traffic trends, but the majority of operators reported a decline in average spend, the first time a decline has been recorded in 18 months. Looking ahead to May, 49% of operators expect improved same-store sales compared to April, with quick-service operators (59%) being the most optimistic. The survey found that around 40% of full-service operators expected a month-to-month improvement in May, although 47% expected sales to be flat.

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