The U.S. foodservice industry is expected to post sales totaling $631.8 billion in 2012, a 3.5-percent increase from last year and the third consecutive year of positive growth, according to the National Restaurant Association’s 2012 Restaurant Industry Forecast, released today.
The expected sales growth is down slightly from the growth rate of 2011, which totaled 4.0 percent, and looks more like 2010, when industry sales rose 3.1 percent. However, the industry is clearly in recovery after the two years of recession-driven sales declines in 2008 and 2009.
In inflation-adjusted terms, total U.S. foodservice sales are projected to grow 0.8 percent in 2012, down slightly from a 1.3-percent gain in 2011.
“Driven by the continued national economic recovery and consumers’ pent-up demand for the food, service and social outlet that restaurants provide, the U.S. restaurant industry is projected to expand in 2012,” the NRA’s 2012 Forecast stated. “Although both the nominal and real growth rates will be somewhat below the 2011 gains, industry growth will remain in positive territory for the third consecutive year.”
Among U.S. foodservice sectors — from commercial restaurants to health care services — not one segment is expected to post a decline in sales or book negative growth. The foodservice sectors expected to generate the largest growth rates include military services, managed services in hospitals and nursing homes, and what the NRA calls retail hosts, or convenience stores, gas station restaurants and grocery store restaurants.
The U.S. commercial restaurant segment, including full-service and quick-service restaurants, along with caterers and bars and taverns, is expected to post sales of $438.1 billion in 2012, a 3.1-percent increase from last year, or 0.4 percent growth in inflation-adjusted terms. Social caterers will drive that growth with an expected 5.6-percent jump in sales, while cafeterias, grill-buffets and buffets will record the lowest growth rate, at 2.7 percent.
Full-service U.S. restaurant sales are expected to total $201.4 billion in 2012, a 2.9-percent nominal increase from 2011, or 0.2 percent in real, inflation-adjusted dollars. Quick-service segment sales are projected to total $173.8 billion, representing 3.1-percent nominal growth, or 0.4-percent real growth, over last year.
NRA Forecast highlights:
Workforce: In 2012, the National Restaurant Association expects the restaurant industry will add jobs at a 2.3-percent rate, a full percentage point above the projected 1.3-percent gain in total U.S. employment. This follows a strong year in 2011, when total U.S. employment grew at a rate of 1.0 percent, and restaurants added jobs at a 1.9-percent rate.
Challenges: The top challenges cited by restaurateurs are food costs, building and maintaining sales volume, and the economy.
“Because about one-third of sales in a restaurant go to food and beverage purchases, food prices are a crucial component for operators,” Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the NRA research and knowledge group, said in a statement. “Last year, we saw wholesale food prices post their strongest annual increase in more than three decades. In 2012, we will see continued increases in the cost of some commodities, while price pressures will ease for others.”
Consumer: The recession has caused eight out of 10 consumers to cut back on spending, according to the NRA Forecast, but pent-up demand for dining out exists. Two out of five consumers say they are not using restaurants as often as they would like.
Nation’s Restaurant News will be covering various parts of the NRA Forecast this week on NRN.com, including coverage of today’s NRA presentation, a look at regional and state sales trends and a consumer trends report.
The National Restaurant Association provides its annual Restaurant Industry Forecast free-of-charge to members. More information can be found at www.restaurant.org/forecast. To view the social media version of the association’s press release and partial data, including video and downloadable images, visit www.restaurant.org/pressroom/socialmedia/forecast2012.