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Restaurant Benchmarks: Lightspeed Analyzes Hospitality Data to Help You Win in 2024

Restaurant Benchmarks: Lightspeed Analyzes Hospitality Data to Help You Win in 2024

The Spotify Wrapped playlists are out. We can all discover which one of our friends is secretly a Swiftie. Have you ever thought about the data behind this annual recap? 

This powerful information is also part of what makes Lightspeed so unique. 

With Advanced Insights in Lightspeed Restaurant, we can analyze restaurant data to help businesses grow, be creative, and offer great customer experiences. 

We analyzed transactions from thousands of hospitality businesses across North America powered by Lightspeed Restaurant. We included bars, casual dining, upscale, fine dining venues and fast-casual businesses in our study.

 We compared different sales trends to see what was popular in 2023 as compared to 2022. We focused on the following periods: January 1, 2022 – November 30, 2022 vs. January 1, 2023 – November 30, 2023.  

Let’s take a closer look at the findings.

The good, the bad and the tasty

We asked ourselves the same questions we hear our customers ask. Here’s what we found.

Is tipping a thing of the past?

No, and there’s some good news for service staff. Tipping in 2023 remained strong, with an average increase of 1.6% when compared to tipping in 2022. That’s despite large-scale economic challenges throughout the year. 

Are customers spending less when they go to the restaurant? 

While the average year-over-year* check size increased by 3.82%, the annual inflation rate in 2023 was 4.2% according to Statista.  And so the increase in check size is lower than the inflation rate. 

What does that mean? 

It means many restaurants aren’t matching the rate of inflation, which means their razor-thin profit margins are shrinking even more. Simply put, ingredients cost a lot more but menu prices only increase a little, or not at all, for many restaurants.

Joe Beef, one of Montreal’s most famous luxurious-yet-unpretentious restaurants, is no stranger to this issue. “Last year, prices for proteins and meats and everything just went crazy,” says James Graham-Simpkins, who oversees operations between the four restaurants in the Joe Beef Group. “Maintaining a good balance between food costs and pricing got really, really hard.” 

With Lightspeed Restaurant, James can see the cost of goods sold (COGS), revenues and profit margins for every item on the menu in a matter of seconds. The information helps him make better business decisions: “we played around with portion sizes and costing and fleshed out the menu to make sure we could deliver the best value,” adds James. While the average guest check dropped slightly—and by design—margins stayed healthy.

“Certain items that we feature on the menu can fluctuate in price throughout the year, and they are staples of what we do,” adds James. “Trying to stabilize those prices is a really hard game. Looking at those volumes over different periods of time helps us apply a reasonable solution.” 

What was the most popular drink?

By far, margaritas are the most popular cocktail across all regions throughout the year. 

2023 Top 10 Classic Cocktails (by sales volume)
1 Margarita
2 Old Fashioned
3 Martini
4 Espresso Martini
5 Paloma
6 Sangria
7 Spritz
8 Bloody Mary
9 Mojito
10 Negroni

If we’re sticking to spirits, vodka, whiskey and tequila were the top three liquor choices in 2023.  

What about the most popular foods?

As Liz Lemon from the show 30 Rock famously said, “All of humankind has one thing in common: the sandwich. I believe that all anyone really wants in this life is to sit in peace and eat a sandwich.” 

That certainly was the case in 2023 as sandwiches and wraps were the most popular food items sold. As any aficionado will tell you, though, not all burgers are created equal. 

Desserts and burgers came in second and third place, respectively. Burgers remain popular despite an average year-over-year price increase of 4.8 %. That being said, we may be witnessing the decline of the brioche bun. Its popularity dropped by an average of 5.4 % over the course of the year. Has the sweet burger bun trend gone stale? 

What’s an up and coming food trend? 

The National Restaurant Association and other outlets often predict which foods will be on the rise in the next year. One item on many lists? Halloumi, a firm cheese with a high melting point that lends itself especially well to grilling. 

Our data shows that halloumi is on the rise on menus across North America and has been steadily increasing in popularity throughout the year. It’s a cheese for all seasons, whereas burrata sales appear to dip in colder months and regain popularity in the summertime.  

Best practices for 2024

Knowing what trends to expect in the year ahead is only part of the solution. Being prepared to tackle some of the most pressing issues facing restaurants in 2024, requires some thoughtful planning.  Here are a few actionable steps to take to gear up for the new year. 

Leverage the right restaurant technology

Nowadays, technology functions as another tool in a restaurant’s kitchen. Bars and restaurants can leverage their POS to help manage reservations, staff shifts, inventory management, customer relationships and more. 

The right restaurant POS and management system helps drive efficiency by streamlining key tasks, like stock purchasing and supplier management. 

With Lightspeed Restaurant, managers can set up recurring orders for trusty staples. With this feature, you can automatically send the same purchase order to your suppliers at regular intervals. So you’ll always have the essentials, without having to repeat the same order over and over again. 

Get sustainable

In a recent study in the UK, Lightspeed found that 70% of the respondents polled are willing to pay more for a meal at a restaurant committed to environmentally friendly practices. This echoes what Simon-Kucher & Partners, a global strategy consulting firm, found in their own research; namely, that most consumers will accept “a 10% price premium to dine at a green restaurant.” 

Sourcing local ingredients, managing food waste more effectively and switching to eco-friendly kitchen supplies are some of the ways to implement more sustainable practices. These are better for the planet and can also be good for your bottom line. 

Some restaurant owners and managers even implement carbon emission reduction programs. In the UK, Cubitt House—a group of eight luxurious pubs, restaurants and boutique hotels—works with Carbon Friendly Dining. Thanks to an optional donation request during the checkout process, Cubitt House offsets their carbon emissions with tree planting.

Invest in your staff’s training and wellbeing 

In many ways, sustainability also extends to your restaurant’s culture. It’s not only about what’s on the plate. It’s also about the people who are making the food, serving it and washing the dishes. It’s the ecosystem within your own business.

Some restaurants are already trying to change restaurant culture, which can be punishing. For Jonathan Metcalfe, the General Manager at Tuck Shop, the willingness to shift towards more sustainable work practices is “a revolution. It’s a big time culture change, and way overdue.” He adds: “I think moving towards a more cooperatively run structure in restaurants” is key to ensuring that communities stay vibrant and that culinary scenes in cities keep thriving.

Curious about how to make small changes that have a lasting impact? According to Marius Savignac Hervieux, the General Manager at Liverpool House, there are a few things restaurant owners can do to create a culture wherein employees people want to stay long-term:

  • Let staff get creative with the menu. Listen to their ideas and incorporate suggestions
  • Build work-life balance into the schedule
  • Let technology do the heavy lifting whenever you can
  • Coach employees and offer focused training opportunities 

Level up your payments solution

With unified payments allowing for even more detailed information about what your customers are ordering, the right technological tool can make all the difference in your operations. 

For Joju Shibu, Purchasing Manager at Dabangg Group, a collection of five restaurants with different concepts, Lightspeed Payments makes closing time easier: “With Lightspeed Payments, I can easily go through the settlement reports to see the breakdowns for each individual location. This seamless interface is the best thing about Lightspeed.” 

A powerful payment system can do more than just accept money. Lightspeed Payments lets you 

  • Get automatic guest profiles when cards are used to close a transaction
  • See which items are bestsellers and which ones are underperforming
  • Access reliable reports from anywhere, anytime

What’s your next step?

Ready to take your business to the next level? Talk to one of our experts

Year end FAQs

What are restaurant benchmarks?

Restaurant industry benchmarks are a set of metrics. 

They help measure performance and identify areas for improvement. The big ones are average check size, table turnover rate and customer satisfaction scores. By establishing clear benchmarks and restaurant KPIs, you’ll have a better handle on your restaurant’s overall health. Then you can set realistic goals for growth.

How can you measure restaurant benchmarks?

You can measure these data points in many different ways. 

With the right POS system, you can track key data by generating custom reports that show real time sales, see your staff’s performance, identify top selling menu items and much more. Certain information is of a more qualitative nature, such as customer feedback surveys that rely on opinions instead of numerical data. No matter how you track your restaurant’s benchmarks, it’s important to adjust them to shifting industry trends and guests’ expectations.


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