February might have been the worst month on record weather-wise for many regions of the country, but for restaurants, the results were far from dreadful as the industry was able to post its eighth consecutive month of positive same-store sales growth. With these latest results, the first quarter of 2015 is firmly positioned to become the third consecutive quarter in which the industry has achieved positive growth in comparable stores. This is the first time in more than two years, according to reported by TDn2K’s Black Box Intelligence through, based on weekly sales from over 20,000 restaurant units representing over $45 billion in annual revenue.

Same-store sales growth was 2.1 percent during February, a 4 percent drop from the growth rate reported for January. “Although this drop could seem to be a sign of weakness for restaurant sales in February, the reality is last month’s results were greatly aided by more favorable winter conditions than were experienced in January of last year, while February was the opposite. February 2015 winter storms were much worse than what was experienced a year ago, negatively impacting sales during the month,” says Victor Fernandez, executive director of insights and knowledge for TDn2K.  “However, same-store traffic did drop during February, the first month since November in which we have tracked negative traffic growth, evidence that the weather did have a negative impact on the industry.”

“There are two main reasons why we believe the industry overall was still able to achieve positive same-store sales during February,” Fernandez adds. “First, last year’s February sales were also soft due to bad weather. As a comparison, same-store sales growth was -1 percent and traffic -3.8 percent for the same month a year ago. This means, the growth hurdles were relatively easy to jump over this year. Secondly, we believe the underlying strength in the economic conditions and positive momentum of consumer optimism is still there, proven by the strong sales growth posted by the western and southern regions of the country during the month.”

Same-store traffic growth was -1 percent during February, a 3.5 percent drop from the growth rate reported in January. However, even with this latest downturn, Q1 2015 is likely to result in positive same-store traffic in restaurants, further evidence that the industry has likely found a new cycle of long-term growth.

The best region of the country during February was the Western region with 5.1 percent same-store sales growth. The worst region was New England with same-store sales growth of -5.8 percent—not surprising given the abysmal winter storms the region has endured. However, most of the country did experience a relatively good month, with 139 of the 190 DMAs tracked by Black Box Intelligence posting positive sales growth during February.