Restaurant Industry Sales Growth

NRA SalesGrowthAlthough you may be facing daily challenges and fighting for every percent of margin, you can take heart in the restaurant industry sales growth projected by the National Restaurant Association (NRA).

We touched on Mintel’s projection and that of the U.S. Census bureau in 2014 Restaurant Trends, and the NRA’s recently released forecast contains plenty of good news for the industry.

Continued Sales Growth

Not only is the restaurant industry experiencing sales growth, the industry is one of the main drivers of overall economic growth. Quoted in NRA’s “Restaurants enter 5th year of real sales growth,” president and CEO Dawn Sweeney said, “As our nation continues its road to recovery, the restaurant industry will remain a key driver of economic growth and a leading jobs creator. Restaurants touch every community across the U.S., and 2014 will be a year of growth and innovation as the industry focuses on inspired new ways to meet consumer demand while providing valuable careers to millions of Americans.”

With the NRA prediction of industry sales at $683.4 billion, this year will show dramatic growth of almost $100 billion since 2010. That projection is also a 3.6 percent increase over last year (1.2 percent inflation adjusted). Despite the difficult recessionary years of 2007-09, the 2014 forecast is a whopping increase (180 percent) over where the industry stood in 2000.

Restaurant Industry Job Growth

The restaurant industry is the second-largest private employer in the country, and the NRA projection for job growth will be the 15th consecutive year in which employment growth in the restaurant industry outpaced overall job growth. The NRA projects that 13.5 million employees will serve the industry, up from 11.9 million ten years ago. It estimates that about ten percent of the working population is employed by the restaurant industry.

Also quoted in the NRA’s forecast release, Hudson Riehle, NRA senior vice president, Research & Knowledge, said, “Despite facing a range of challenges, America’s restaurants are showing continued resiliency and innovation. As the industry enters its fifth straight year of real sales growth, operators are feeding consumer appetites with new technology, customer loyalty efforts, and evolving menu options. Consumers currently have a historically high pent-up demand for restaurant services, which is likely to translate into a business boost as the economy continues to improve – and our nation’s foodservice operators are rising to the challenge.”

2014 Restaurant Challenges

Despite the rosy picture painted by the NRA forecast, 2014 will not be without its challenges with increasing food and labor costs as well as the overall economy leading the way.

To cope with these, technological advances and the use of technology in restaurants will grow. As noted in 2014 Restaurant Trends, technology can be key to improving the efficiency of the ordering and check out processes to help keep more of the projected growing sales dollars on your bottom line. Additionally, it can enable a streamlined and efficient launch and tracking of a loyalty program. Return customers are also the most profitable ones, so loyalty programs make a lot of sense.

Make sure you are well-positioned to ride the restaurant industry sales growth wave and enjoy a profitable year.