Restaurant Industry Experiences Record​-Breaking Growth



As the U.S. economy experiences an upswing in growth, the restaurant industry is reaping the benefits. According to a study conducted by the National Restaurant Association (NRA), industry sales are expected to rise in 2014 for the fifth year in a row. Whether you are a student taking online culinary courses or a new restaurateur, this news comes as a pleasant surprise as the majority of consumers believe the industry is in need of a boost.

Where the restaurant industry is experiencing growth
The NRA report projects that sales will grow 3.6 percent in 2014, reaching almost $659.3 billion in 2013. More than 900,000 restaurants exist in the U.S. and many experts believe that owners and operators of dining establishments will have a record year. However, Hudson Riehle, Senior Vice President for Research and Knowledge at the NRA, suggests that even though growth is expected, restaurateurs still need to be at the top of their game.

“From the operator perspective, obviously it is and only will continue to be an extremely competitive environment,” Riehle said in a webinar that accompanied the NRA report.

Consumers are still hesitant about spending money in restaurants and businesses should put their best foot forward when it comes to marketing. Creating incentives to attract future patrons should be a priority for many restaurant owners. Technology will also play a major role in restaurant growth. Smartphone apps, social media-specific deals and overall public exposure through digital mediums will help nudge consumers out of the house and boost restaurant loyalty. Owners and operators can use this technology to offer special deals at different times of the day, allowing future guests more opportunities to eat at a discounted rate. Widescreen video menu boards are making waves in the industry as well. The devices are being used to promote quick service at high-end, specialty restaurants while tabletop screens in casual dining are adding a high-tech feel, an alluring feature for the young professional demographic.

Cities benefiting from economic growth
Although increase in sales is expected for cities all over the country, southern and southwestern states show the most promise. According to the NRA study, Arizona is projected to benefit the most next year and is expected to experience a 4.9 percent raise in sales. In addition to increased sales, Arizona is expected to lead all other states in restaurant job growth with a 15.6 percent gain. Following closely in restaurant sales and job growth is Texas at 4.7 and 15.3 percent, respectively.


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