April 26, 2021

State of the Industry: A Q1 2021 Update

Evaluating the Road to Recovery Through AQ Data

AQ, along with industry veteran Rob Connelly, recently presented a webinar providing data-driven insights into the current state of the FES market and what these trends project as we move forward together. Read on for a recap of the presentation.

Where our market stands

With the first quarter of 2021 complete, we can begin to assess the progressive recovery of the FES industry following the economic effects of the pandemic. Several outside factors have influenced the rate of recovery for our market like government stimulus programs and phased vaccine rollouts. These initiatives have made consumers comfortable enough to partake in social activities they had missed out on during the past year. The pent-up demand for outings has been evident and there’s a lot of data pointing toward a positive outlook.

It’s all in the data

Team AQ’s methodology for gathering data is based on quote activity, rather than a list price database. This strategy gives us a live view of activity that aligns with behavioral trends in the industry. Once the data collection is complete, our team then focuses on “central data” that gives a more accurate view of what is going on in the platform. This essentially means that outliers are excluded as they would otherwise pull an average toward a skewed number that doesn’t accurately represent most quotes.

Our team also performed a comparison analysis with findings in the Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) in addition to our internal data. Conducted by the National Restaurant Association, the RPI focuses on tracking how well restaurants are doing in both sales and capital expenditures. Our team found that some of these values are highly correlated with what we found in our own data.

Don’t quote me on this

Pricing trends greatly influence how quoting activity is going to turn out in any given quarter and Q1 of this year was no different. Price increases were evident across the board, staying in correlation with the expected rate of change for increases as opposed to slower rates for decreases. Tabletop and smallware categories saw the highest percentage of change. In comparison with the previous quarter, Q1 produced price increases at a faster pace along with an increase in average discount rates. These findings are just a couple of solutions that manufacturers have used to make up lost revenue from pandemic-era sales performance.


Overall, quoting volume in 2021 has skyrocketed in comparison to the same quarter last year and it continues growing, hitting 100% of the overall volume from Q1 of 2020 in mid-February. At the time that this post was published, we had already begun to see a crossover between 2021 and 2020 quoting by company. The number of users is increasing steadily as well with a third of active users back on the platform. While we traditionally see annual trend lines decreased due to seasonality expectations, we continue to see collective long-term momentum from both large companies and a boom in new small businesses.

Ready for blast off

There’s a lot to be optimistic about as we move forward with a collective wave of economic recovery. During the webinar, Rob Connelly shared his perspective of growth for businesses whether they’re experiencing stability or volatility. From his viewpoint, trends are expected to positively affect companies in vulnerable positions because of the amount of growth we are seeing for the industry as a whole. Those in a sustainable place can expect to continued improvement of sales performance month to month. “If you’re not ready, you should start to prepare because there is huge opportunity,” said Connelly. Based on our analysis, our team is confident that a huge push is expected, and we are excited for this trend to continue.

For more details on Q1 data findings, you can visit our Video Resources center to watch a recording of the webinar.

Related links: A Q1 2021 Update from AQ’s CEO, Jim Contardi, Staying a Step Ahead: Interpreting the Statistical Relationship between NRA’s RPI and AQ Data

Alex Cruz - Communications Specialist

Alex is a Communications Specialist at Revalize, AQ's parent company. Her focus is on delivering innovative content to our clients through our digital platforms. She brings with her years of experience in various B2B industries that enable her to provide a fresh perspective to our customers.

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