After witnessing a three-year period of downturn in sales, the National Restaurant Association research announced that the restaurant industry in US will show a positive growth and achieve a record $604 billion in 2011. The association declares a rise in the industry sales by 3.6 percent over 2010 sales, which equals 1.1 percent in real terms.
Hudson Riehle, Senior Vice President of the Research and Knowledge Group for the National Restaurant Association believes with the gradual improvement of the national economy status, the restaurant industry is also emerging out of its most crucial phase in decades to post positive real sales growth in 2011. He added that the growth in restaurant industry would also boost the nation’s economy this year.
Restaurants are the second-largest private sector, providing employment to 12.8 million employees. Moreover, the nation’s 960,000 restaurants are consistently serving as powerful contributors, playing a dominating role in the recovery of nation’s economic condition, with industry sales constituting 4 percent of the US gross domestic product and employee strength comprising around 10 percent of the US workforce.
Industry Segment Growth
The industry experts are hopeful that the quickservice restaurant sector will witness a slightly stronger sales growth in comparison to the fullservice segment. It is expected that the quickservice restaurants will reach the sales of $167.7 billion this year, a surplus of 3.3 percent over 2010, where as sales at fullservice restaurants are expected to attain $194.6 billion in 2011, an increment of 3.1 percent in current dollars over 2010.
In addition, the eating and drinking place sector is expected to witness the strongest growth in 2011, where the sales are projected to increase by 6.2 percent.
State and Regional Sales Growth
Amongst the 50 states, North Carolina is predicted to hold the strongest sales growth in 2011 at 4.2 percent (industry sales are projected at $14.1 billion), followed by Idaho ($1.8 billion) and Virginia ($12.8 billion) at 4.0 percent. Forecast to post growth at 3.9 percent: Texas ($36.7), Florida ($30.1 billion), Maryland ($9.4 billion) and Colorado ($8.6 billion).
Among the nine US Census regions, the South Atlantic is expected to project the highest restaurant sales growth at 3.9 percent, with a total of $93.9 billion among its eight states (Georgia, Virginia and West Virginia, Delaware, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Maryland).
The employment opportunity is expected to rise in 2011 from a modest job growth last year. This year the restaurant industry will accelerate job growth at a rate of 2.4 percent and in the next decade, there will be an additional 1.3 million positions in the industry.
The industry experts hold that Texas and Florida will experience the strongest job growth in the coming 10 years at roughly 17 percent, closely followed by Arizona and Alabama at around 16 percent.
Consumer and Menu Trends
According to the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Industry Forecast of 2011, consumers today contribute 49 percent of their entire food budget in the restaurant industry, which was only 25 percent in 1995. It has been studied that individuals who are social media savvy dine out more often than common public. Around 92 percent have their meals at an eatery at least once in a month while 87 percent buy a meal or snack from a quickservice restaurant at least once a month. They are also found to connect with restaurants through different social media sites, posting or reading reviews. Moreover, nearly 51 percent of social media savvy individuals consider restaurant as a vital part of their lifestyle.
The 2011 Restaurant Industry Forecast also shows that the trend of eating healthy and considering the nutritional value of food while dining out is emerging among most of the consumers, which was not found two years ago. According to Association’s ‘’What’s Hot in 2011’’ survey, it was found that people are preferring to have more locally produced meat and seafood, healthy kids’ meal and gluten-free/food allergy conscious cuisine.
Another emerging trend incorporated in the Restaurant Industry Forecast is that of food trucks. It was surveyed that around 47 percent of consumers would prefer food trucks if they are operated by the restaurant of their choice.