Restaurant sales

Restaurant sales rise to $863 billion in 2019

The restaurant industry is moving in the right direction. In its annual report on the state of the restaurant industry, the National Restaurant Association outlined where the business is and what operators can expect over the next decade.

After analyzing surveys of restaurant owners, chefs, operators and consumers, the Association found that the overall industry sentiment is positive, despite some recent headwinds. By the end of 2019, restaurant sales are expected to hit $863 billion and operators say their businesses are stronger than two years ago. According to the Association, three out of four operators gave “excellent” or “good” ratings when asked to assess business conditions in the industry.

“The restaurant industry is on a continued growth trajectory, driven by an expanding U.S. economy and positive consumer sentiment,” Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association, said in a statement. . “2019 marks the centennial of the Association, and the comprehensive analysis contained in this report provides a solid foundation for restaurant owners and operators to make decisions about the future of their businesses.”

New technologies and changing consumer demand for more off-premises options are driving employment growth in the industry.

Using data from the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, the Association concluded that the restaurant industry has been adding jobs with annual earnings between $45,000 and $74,999 at a rate more than three times higher than that of the US economy as a whole.

The number of jobs in this income bracket increased by 71% between 2010 and 2017 and it looks like these numbers will continue to rise in the future. In 2009, 12.3 million people were employed in the industry, according to the Association. In 2019, around 15.3 million people are currently working in the restaurant industry. Over the next decade, the Association predicts the industry will continue to grow and create 1.6 million new restaurant jobs.

Go Offsite

It’s no secret that consumers are demanding more options for how they dine, and a large part of those demands include takeout. Building the segment can give restaurants a competitive edge.

“While onsite traffic still accounts for the majority of table service segment business, growing consumer demand will make offsite options important drivers across the industry in 2019. Successful operators will focus on the slice schedule that best suits their segment,” the report said.

The Association found that 38% of adults in the United States — and 50% of millennials — are more likely to have food delivered to restaurants than just two years ago. This means that owners and operators must have a strategy to deal with these growing demands, because they are not going away anytime soon.

Both casual and fast-casual restaurants benefited from off-premises, seeing higher take-out and delivery sales than two years ago. According to the report, less than one in 10 say their delivery sales have declined.

The quick service segment already has a hold on the off-premises. “More than 70% of customer traffic in the quick service, coffee and snack segments is offsite, according to data from NPD Group CREST,” the report said.

In the area of ​​full service, there is room for improvement. The report shows that there is still a lot of potential to shift customers from strictly dining experiences to off-site opportunities.

Percentage of offsite customer traffic:

  • Family meals: 20 percent
  • Casual dining: 17 percent
  • Gastronomy: 6 percent
  • Fast service: 72 percent
  • Quick Casual: 50 percent
  • Coffee and snack: 73%

By the end of 2019, four in 10 operators plan to invest more capital in the off-premises expansion of their restaurants.

Percentage of restaurant operators who plan to dedicate more resources to expanding the off-premises side of the business in 2019:

  • Family meals: 41 percent
  • Casual dining: 35 percent
  • Gastronomy: 35 percent
  • Fast service: 36 percent
  • Quick Casual: 39 percent
  • Coffee and snack: 43 percent

Invest in technology

From point-of-sale and online ordering systems to employee training programs, technology is integrated into almost every aspect of a restaurant. And more than eight in 10 operators agree that restaurants should continue to invest in new technology if they want to stay competitive.

These new investments will affect both front-end and back-end operations to streamline operations and processes while improving the consumer experience.

“Consumer demand for convenience and speed will continue to accelerate, and restaurants are responding by adopting and incorporating more sophisticated layers of technology into daily operations,” Hudson Riehle, senior vice president, research group and knowledge, National Restaurant Association, said in a statement. “Operators in all restaurant segments will be focused on growing their business with millennials and younger consumers in the years to come. To attract these digital natives, we can expect the majority of operators to get creative in offering personalized incentives, offers, loyalty programs and rewards through various digital channels.

Customer service technologies such as app ordering, mobile payment, and reservations are at the forefront of what restaurants need to think about when investing. In the fast food segment, 70% of operators plan to invest in this type of technology.

To help improve back-of-house operations in full-service and quick-service restaurants, operators should look to invest in inventory and table management technology. Customer-facing technologies, such as tablets, iPads, and table ordering, can help streamline the ordering/payment process when full-service restaurants operate during peak hours.

Restaurants are also transitioning from marketing to social media channels and using the digital space to reach more people.