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Hey, How are Things Looking? The SCAA Wants to Know

retail coffee shop sentiment index

Is this cup 10 percent empty or 90 percent full? Photo by Sam Howzit.

The SCAA last week announced the launch of a new Retail Sentiment Index (RSI) survey, which will be used to create a gauge for optimism in the coffee retail segment, as well as a forecasting tool for industry turning points.

The survey is a simple-enough series of questions like “Looking ahead, do you foresee a year from now your company will be financially better off, worse off or the same as now?” and, “Do you foresee increasing your workforce, cutting back employment, or no change during the next year?”

(related: SCAA Launches E-Learning Platform for Roaster, Barista and Taster Certifications)

The survey is actually a simplified version of the SCAA’s previous “coffeehouse sales trends report,” which asked retailers more specific financial, operational and programming details, down to things like individual menu items and the purchase prices of milk. SCAA marketing Director Tara Smith tells Daily Coffee News, “It turned out that this level of detail made it really difficult for coffeehouse owners to participate.”

While the survey itself is a more simplified version, there will be some complexity in how the answers are processed.

(related: 2014 Coffee Consumer Trends Report: More Gourmet, Single Cups)

“The data will be used to create an index number, much like the consumer confidence index,” says Smith. “We are currently planning to produce two RSIs per year. The initial survey data will create the baseline equal to 100. The succeeding surveys will produce an index number that can then be compared to the baseline, therefore tracking any trends in how the sentiment changes from year to year. Over time, we can begin to look at how retailer sentiment changes and begin to draw conclusions based on events and other changes occurring in the marketplace, which will allow us to forecast more accurately.”

Smith suggests the index number will not only give individual retailers an idea of the collective feeling among their peers, it could also be a useful reference point for people outside the specialty coffee industry.


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