Restaurant Industry to Hit Trillions

by | Feb 15, 2024 | blog, Business, Industry News, National Restaurant Consultants | 0 comments

Last week, the National Restaurant Association released its forecasting report for 2024 with a major headline: for the first time in history, the restaurant industry is expected to surpass $1 trillion in sales, making it the second-largest industry earner, writes Nation’s Restaurant News (NRN) in a recent article.

“Last year, the foodservice industry forecast was $997 billion, while the pre-pandemic forecast from 2019 was about $863 billion, illustrating a staggering growth trajectory throughout the past four years despite a global black swan event. Of course, much of these sales have been driven largely by pricing; menu prices peaked at an 8.8% year-over-year increase in March 2023, but have since started to cool a bit and were 5.2% higher in December,” the article goes on to specify.

These numbers reflect the spending habits of younger generations—Millennials and Gen Z—who represent more than half of these sales numbers, according to NRN. “Fifty-two percent – including 67% of millennials and 63% of Gen Z adults – say ordering takeout from a restaurant is an essential part of their lifestyle,” meaning pricing isnt the only driver here.”

But this jaw-dropping data provides restauranteurs additional useful information, outside of customer data. Spending has increased even though options have declined after pandemic-related slumps and closures. “According to Technomic Ignite data, there were just over 631,500 restaurants in 2023 versus just over 703,000 in 2019,” reports NRN. There is room to grow in the industry, and if consumers are committed to the restaurants that have remained steadfast. 

Even with fewer open restaurant locations, experts are also reporting an increase in restaurant industry job openings, and the Associations predictions for 2024 includes a workforce of 15.7 million. “Forty-five percent of restaurant operators report that they need more employees to meet consumer demand and a majority (70%) have job openings they say are hard to fill. The association expects the industry to add 150,000 jobs per year on average for the next eight years, with total staffing levels reaching 16.9 million by 2032,” states the NRN article.

The anticipation of a growing workforce comes despite the suggestion that restaurants will adopt more and more technology. NRN shares, “Technology has become critical and will be a top investment priority for operators big and small in 2024; 60% of operators plan to make technology investments this year, versus 48% in 2023.” Restaurants will continue to build their labor pool while making investments in consumer-facing technologies to enhance the customer experience and improve efficiency with workers.

It seems 2024 will be a major year of growth for the industry. But what does that mean for established restaurant businesses or new restauranteurs just beginning? National Restaurant Consultants President Richard Weil weighs in. “The key to tracking sales growth falls into three main categories: first, general sales, then customer counts, and finally, average tickets per guest.  These three Key Performance Indicators (KPI) are essential measurements to truly see the bigger picture.”

The National Restaurant Association’s forecast is cause for optimism, and at National Restaurant Consultants, we are here to design data-driven and time-tested plans for your restaurant’s success. Take advantage of this period of industry growth by working with a restaurant consultant for an upcoming year of personal business success.

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