Restaurant Index Suggests Recession in 2017

The restaurant industry looks headed for recession -- and this should make everyone nervous

“Today, we adopt a Bearish outlook for Restaurants as we confidently believe that, at a minimum, the simultaneous [-1.5%] to [-2%] deceleration of Restaurant industry comps across all categories during 2Q16 (of +0.7%A vs. 3Q14-1Q16’s +2.4%A) within our most recent Stifel Sales Survey reflects the start of a US Restaurant Recession — which, may also represent a harbinger to a US recession in early 2017; and, if so, Restaurants have historically led the market lower during the 3-to-6-month periods prior to the start of the prior three US recessions (Restaurants -23% vs. S&P 500’s -10%).
The catalyst for the current weak pre-recessionary restaurant spending trend is likely multi-faceted (US Politics; Terrorism; Social Unrest; Global Geo-Politics; Economic Uncertainty) but, if history is a guide, we warn investors that restaurant industry sales tend to be the “Canary that Lays the Recessionary Egg” (i.e. the current -2% cut-back in dining out sales is a possible harbinger of a -2%-plus cut-back in the US consumers’ entire spending basket within 3-to-9 months (which accounts for ~70% of the US Economy)).”

My view:

This recessionary call by Stifel analyst Paul Westra suggests all is not well with a heavily indebted American consumer.  After many years of stagnating income, and demographics shifting to an older population, this is not particularly surprising.  All the low interest rates and QE in the world can not fight these fundamentals.  We suggest the stock market peaks within the next year and recessionary forces elbow their way into mainstream thought.