2012 M a r c h - #3-2
Record Sales & Job Growth Ahead
For Restaurant Industry in 2012
(Washington, D.C.) Despite sluggish recovery by the nation's economy, the
using restaurants as often as they would like. With the right incentives, that
restaurant industry is projected to expand in 2012, according to the National
demand can translate into sales.
Restaurant Association's 2012 Restaurant Industry Forecast released on Feb-
Technology is finding its place at the restaurant table. Although high-tech items
ruary 1. Total restaurant industry sales are expected to reach a record high
such as wireless payment and iPad menus aren't commonplace just yet, there is
of $632 billion in 2012, a 3.5 percent increase over 2011, marking the second
strong consumer interest in such options.
consecutive year that industry sales have topped $600 billion.
According to the National Restaurant Association's 2012 Restaurant Industry
In addition, the restaurant industry will continue to fuel U.S. employment in
Forecast, nearly 4 in 10 consumers say they'd be likely to use an electronic
the year ahead as the nation's second largest private sector employer. Overall
ordering system and menus on tablet computers at tableservice restaurants.
restaurant industry employment will reach 12.9 million in 2012, representing
About half said they would use at-table electronic payment options and a
10 percent of the total U.S. workforce.
restaurant's smartphone app to view menus and make reservations. At quick-
"As our nation slowly recovers from the economic downturn, restaurants con-
service restaurants, about 4 out of 10 consumers say they would place online or-
tinue to be a vital part of American lifestyles and our nation's economy," said
ders for takeout, use in-store self-service ordering kiosks, and use smartphone
Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association.
apps to look at menus and order delivery.
"We expect the nation's nearly one million restaurants to post sales of $632
What's more is that in today's über-connected society, email and text messag-
billion this year. Combine that with the fact that restaurant job growth is ex-
ing are proving to be an effective way for restaurant operators to reach their
pected to outpace the overall economy for the 13th straight year, and it's clear
consumers. Roughly 3 in 10 of adults said they would like to receive an email
that the restaurant industry is once again proving to be a significant economic
with daily specials, while about 1 in 5 prefer text messages with similar infor-
stimulant and strong engine for job creation."
mation. If a restaurant's specials were available on Facebook or Twitter, nearly
In 2011, total U.S. employment grew at a rate of 1.0 percent, while restaurants
one-third of consumers say they'd be likely to sign up, indicating that social
added jobs at a 1.9 percent rate. In 2012, the National Restaurant Association
media continues to be a powerful marketing tool.
expects the restaurant industry to add jobs at a 2.3 percent rate, a full percent-
To further feed consumers' digital hunger, more than 9 out of 10 restaurant
age point above the projected 1.3 percent gain in total U.S. employment.
operators said their restaurant will likely be using Facebook in the next year
The industry is expected to gain back all of the jobs lost during the recession
or two, with use of Twitter and smartphone applications expected to be on the
by early 2012. The overall economy isn't expected to be back at pre-recession
employment levels until 2014. Looking ahead, the Association expects a jump
Giving consumers what they want will be crucial for restaurant operators in
in restaurant employment to 14.3 million individuals in the next decade, an
2012. As the recession has caused 8 out of 10 consumers to cut back on spend-
increase of 1.4 million jobs.
ing to some degree, it is more important than ever for operators to nudge those
While the industry is expected to grow in 2012, the top challenges cited by
guests into patronizing their restaurants.
restaurateurs are food costs, building and maintaining sales volume, and the
According to the National Restaurant Association's 2012 Restaurant Industry
Forecast, food quality, customer service quality and value are the top attributes
"Because about one-third of sales in a restaurant go to food and beverage
consumers look for when choosing a tableservice restaurant. For quickservice
purchases, food prices are a crucial component for operators," said Hudson
restaurants, customers are looking for food quality, value and speed of service
Riehle, senior vice president of the National Restaurant Association's Research
when picking where to dine.
and Knowledge group. "Last year, we saw wholesale food prices post their
When it comes to food, the top menu trends are all about local sourcing and nu-
strongest annual increase in more than three decades. In 2012, we will see
trition, especially kids' nutrition. Nearly three-quarters of consumers say they
continued increases in the cost of some commodities, while price pressures
are more likely to visit a restaurant that offers locally produced food items, and
will ease for others."
more than half of all restaurants currently offer locally sourced produce.
However, opportunities are also present for operators to be successful by
Similarly, nearly three-quarters of consumers say they are trying to eat healthier
understanding and leveraging consumer trends to attract new guests and
now at restaurants than they did two years ago, and a majority of restaurants
make current ones come back. The good news is, there is substantial pent-up
agree that customers are ordering more such items.
demand for restaurant services, with 2 out of 5 consumers saying they are not
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