Cracker Barrel Continues to Struggle as Both Revenue and Sales are Down
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. continues to struggle as the company undergoes a leadership transition from former CEO Sandra Cochran to new CEO Julie Felss Masino, who started her role on Nov. 1. Cracker Barrel reported retail same-store sales declines of 8.1% and restaurant same-store sales declines of 0.5% for the first quarter of 2024 ended Oct. 27. Although same-store sales improved for the retail sector since last quarter, restaurant sales were positive last quarter as compared with this quarter’s current downturn.
Despite same-store sales declines as well as revenue declines of 1.9% to $823.8 million, compared with $839.5 million the same quarter the year prior, Masino said that is she is feeling optimistic about the Lebanon, Tenn.-based casual-dining brand’s traffic improvements.
“We were pleased that we delivered sequential monthly improvements in our comparable store traffic performance during the first quarter,” she said in a statement. “This improved trend was largely driven by the actions we took to improve the effectiveness of our marketing and our emphasis on the guest experience. We will continue to focus on these initiatives along with operational excellence, and we believe these efforts will resonate with guests and will support improved performance in the remainder of the fiscal year and beyond.”
Masino also added that last quarter Cracker Barrel launched its brand-new rewards program, which guests have “embraced,” and that the levels of enrollment have exceeded expectations, though did not go into details on specific numbers. The loyalty program is based on Cracker Barrel’s popular peg game, and participants will earn “pegs” for every dollar they spend in both the restaurants and the attached retail shops.
“We remain excited about this program and are confident it will be a meaningful differentiator and traffic driver over the long term,” Masino said.
There are plans to heavily push and market this new loyalty program as a means of encouraging return guests and increasing consumer excitement about the Cracker Barrel brand. The company also expects a Q2 marketing and traffic push around the holiday season, which is traditionally a popular time of year for the homestyle-cooking brand.
For the first quarter ended Oct. 27, Cracker Barrel’s net income was $5.5 million or $0.25 per share, down 68% from $17.1 million or $0.77 per share the same quarter the year prior. The company opened one new Cracker Barrel unit and one new Maple Steet Biscuit Company unit in the first quarter for a total of 721 restaurants portfolio-wide.