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Cracker Barrel losing customers 65 and older during inflation

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Cracker Barrel blamed inflation for a drop in silver-haired customers on the country-themed chain as rising prices took a much bigger bite out of their budgets, the corporate said.

Customers 65 and older skipped by the highway staple over the summer, the corporate said in an earnings call with analysts on Tuesday – and “we still see them holding back visits,” chief marketing officer Jennifer Tate said on the decision.

The 53 year-old chain sells kitschy items at its country store and serves up traditional southern comfort food like fried pickles, buttermilk biscuits, chicken fried steak, grits and loaded hash brown casserole.

The Lebanon, Tenn.-based company, said June and July were slower than usual as gas prices were elevated and lower income families curtailed their summer holiday driving.

“(We’re confronting) the challenge of navigating an environment of softer consumer demand and better costs coupled with the uncertainty about when either of those dynamics will abate,” chief executive Sandra Cochran said.

Cracker Barrel is headquartered in Lebanon, Tenn.Getty Images

In early August, Deutsche Bank analyst Brian Mullan cut his price goal for Cracker Barrel to $100 over concerns that older diners had not returned to the chain after the pandemic.

Despite the loss in older diners, the corporate still reported growth in essentially the most recent quarter.

Revenue for the fourth quarter ended July 29 increased by 5.9% from a 12 months ago to $830.4 million while comparable store restaurant sales increased by 6.1% and comparable retail sales increased 3%, the corporate said. 

Net income fell to $33 million from $36 million a 12 months ago, as the corporate struggled with higher food inflation than it had expected. The corporate’s stock is down 1.4% to about $96 on Wednesday morning.

Cracker Barrel said it “gained traction” with millennials and guests between 44 and 55 — without offering details.

Two older men sitting on a bench in front of a Cracker Barrel.Cracker Barrel says its attracting younger customers, nevertheless it’s not enough to make up for the variety of older customers who haven’t returned.Universal Images Group via Getty

In August, the chain introduced a plant-based sausage, but in addition faced blowback from some customers who claimed the corporate was becoming too “woke.”

“Thanks Cracker Barrel now my family won’t give you the chance to dine there since the troves of hippy stoner vegetarian lib cucks will now be invading my favorite chain restaurant,” wrote one Facebook user in regards to the recent veggie sausages.

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