CHICAGO — Full-service restaurants saw some sign of improvement in September in perhaps the worst market conditions the restaurant industry has seen in almost 20 years. Nationally, full-service restaurant performance declined 6.3% in September compared with 12% decline for the month of August, according to Technomic and GuestMetrics research.

The monthly SalesMetrics Report was designed to report on monthly restaurant sales performance trends. This new report combines actual point-of-sale data from more than 2,700 national full-service independent and chain restaurants.

Highlights of the study include:

Regions of the country varied dramatically, although sales in September where down 6.3% nationally, with the Phoenix market showing year-over-year growth of 7.6% while the Los Angeles market declined 12.1%.

Dinner business has seen the largest decrease in usage (-6.8%) followed by breakfast (-5.9%), and late night (-5.8%), daypart trends indicate. Lunch had the smallest decline (-5.3%).

Performance trends analyzed by cuisine types varied dramatically with seafood restaurants posting the smallest decline (-0.5%) and steak restaurants declining more significantly (-12.3%). Guest traffic, in general, decreased 6.1% in September. Chain restaurants declined by 6.6%; independent restaurants showed only a 5.7% decrease.

Average check price has decreased 5.5%, with chain restaurants declining only 4.4% compared with independents, down 6.4%.