2014 Restaurant Trends

2014  Restaurant TrendsThe restaurant industry showed positive trends in the third and fourth quarters of 2013 (including Projected Restaurant Job Growth), and the 2014 restaurant trends look favorable as well. This continues to build on the continued, albeit slow, economic improvement after the tough years of 2008 and 2009.

According to Mintel (global leader specializing in consumer and market data, research, and analysis), sales in the restaurant and food service industry will total $438 billion for 2013 and that 2014 sales will increase by nearly six percent (cited in MediaPost’s 2014 Looks Promising for Restaurants.”)

Census Bureau’s Restaurant Stats

The U.S. Census Bureau News release in mid-January reports that retail and food service sales for December (adjusted for seasonal variation but not price changes) showed an increase of .02 percent from the previous month and over four percent compared to the same time in 2012. Total sales for 2013 were up 4.2 percent over 2012.

Food and beverage stores (including grocery, beer, wine and liquor stores) showed an almost three percent increase over 2012 while food services and drinking places reflected the increase for the overall retail and food service category with a 4.1 percent increase over last year.

The preliminary sales estimate for food services and drinking places was $504.9 billion for the first eleven months of 2013, a four percent improvement over the same time period for 2012.

2014 Key Industry Trends

Mintel’s category manager, Julia Gallo-Torres notes five key trends to the restaurant and food service industry for this year.

First, there is impressive continued growth for fast casual due to a focus on customization, speed of service and convenience. Higher-quality burger franchises and pizza restaurants are contributing to the growth of this sector, which is also driving growth in the overall industry.

Full service restaurants are borrowing pages from the fast casual playbook including developing processes for faster service, healthier menus items, and using technology to enhance the dining experience, namely speeding up service.

Next, transparency is becoming a buzzword from the restaurant industry right on up to the federal government. Consumers are becoming more demanding in questioning ingredients and supply chains. They want to know what’s in their food and where it came from. Additionally, they are now also questioning employment policies and practices as well as green initiatives.

Demographic due diligence is moving to the forefront. Yes, Millennials tend to dine out most often, but other demographics can’t be ignored. Hispanics and women as dining out patrons are demographics that are growing. (Also see Baby Boomer Impact on Restaurants.)

Finally, technology use in restaurants is growing. Website navigation and smartphone-friendly displays are becoming more critical. Additionally, use of in-restaurant tablets and electronic displays are improving efficiency and enabling easier launches of loyalty programs, nutritional information displays, and the ordering and check out process.

Growth is slow, but the 2014 restaurant trends indicate that there is real growth and that the industry is faring better than others during this time of glacial economic growth.

(Stay tuned for more on the restaurant industry sales growth and the impact of fast casual dining on the industry.)

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