According to Buffalo Wild Wings, a rough third quarter can be blamed on the NFL schedule.
On Wednesday, the chicken-wings chain reported$455.5 million in sales, less than the $466.8 million expected by analysts. Shares were crashing by as much as 18% on the news.
While management cited food and labor costs as factors, it said much of the blame lay in a fall sports calendar that is less than ideal for selling wings. This year’s NFL season opened a week later than last year’s, on September 10 as opposed to September 4 in 2014.
“If you looked at September as a month, there were six days in which we didn’t have college or pro football when we did last year, and then also a UFC fight and a boxing match,” Buffalo Wild Wings COO James M. Schmidt said in an earnings call. “That really impacted both the month and the quarter as a whole.”
Sporting events, especially football games, drive much of Buffalo Wild Wings’ sales, as sports fans flock to locations to watch the game or order out for home viewing parties.
Looking ahead to the fourth quarter, Buffalo Wild Wings executives are placing the blame not on the NFL, but on holiday festivities, forcing the company to revise its goal for 2015 net earnings growth to single-digits from 13%.
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While the company expects fans to show up to root for their favorite NFL teams heading toward the Super Bowl and college teams reaching bowl games, inopportune timing of Halloween and Christmas are expected to induce a sales slump. This year, Halloween falls on a Saturday, while Christmas falls on a Friday, providing alternative activities on days customers would otherwise be watching sports and buying wings.
“Typically how Saturday is – especially during football – is a bigger day for us than a Friday is,” CEO Sally Smith said of the impact of the holiday shifts in the earnings call. “So that’s the nature of why we think it would be a negative. Similarly on the Christmas holiday, Friday night would be typically a bigger sales volume day than a Thursday.”