Darden Restaurants ($DRI), the company that owns several chains including Olive Garden, might have something to worry about, and it's not just what's been in the news lately.
The past few weeks have seen a blistering number of stories pop up about the Orlando-based business, including Olive Garden photoshopping high school proms, Darden raising half a billion by offering common stocks, and the stock price jumping as executives cut their pay.
Originally, we looked into Darden's data because it had lost 44.7% of its sales during the fourth quarter. But miraculously, takeout and to-go orders have tripled over the past month, causing a bounceback in the stock price.
When we visualize every data point we have on Darden and its biggest brand, Olive Garden, we can see just how devastating the global pandemic and self-quarantine have been on business.
Olive Garden was as steady as a rock over the past year in terms of job listings, but that finally gave way in early April, as the job openings dropped 15% over the last three weeks. Still, leadership is boasting its takeout business.
"Our brand teams continue to work extremely hard to deliver exceptional To Go experiences to our guests," said Gene Lee, CEO of Darden. "We are proud of our team's ability to adapt and their dedication to producing results that consistently outperform our expectations and are building momentum."
The same thing happened to Darden's corporate job postings over the past six weeks, falling 74% as the executive salary cuts were being implemented.
Over the past two years the number of Facebook likes and people talking about Olive Garden has been going down, a rarity for social media followings we track and cover.
This isn't an indictment about the restaurant, but simply a sign that online chatter and buzz just isn't what it used to be. As a growing number of US states contemplate partial reopening, it remains to be seen whether even a half-full dining area can translate into a rebound for Darden.
About the Data:
Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.
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