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National Restaurant Association Predicts Record High Sales

Posted by Jerad Giottonini on February 22, 2024

The National Restaurant Association’s annual State of the Industry report predicts that U.S. restaurant sales will likely surpass $1.1 trillion in 2024, marking the first time it will reach a 13-digit figure. This growth, exceeding 10% from the previous year’s forecast, is despite challenges such as high food and labor costs, staffing issues, and consumer budget constraints.

While operators are cautiously optimistic about sales growth, profitability remains under pressure due to economic factors like inflation and rising costs. Many operators struggled with profitability in the previous year, with concerns about debt, supply chain disruptions, and operational costs lingering.

Consumers are watching their spending closely, with varying levels of confidence in the economy and their personal finances. Value propositions and loyalty programs are increasingly important in enticing customers, who are more inclined to seek discounts and specials, dine during off-peak times, and opt for smaller portions to save money.

Technology plays a significant role in the industry’s evolution, with operators recognizing its importance in enhancing customer experiences and operational efficiency. Investments in technology upgrades are expected to increase, catering to consumers’ preferences, and streamlining processes, although there are differing opinions on the extent of future tech integration.

Staffing shortages persist despite the industry’s return to pre-pandemic employment levels, posing challenges for operators in meeting customer demand. Technology and automation are seen as solutions to alleviate labor shortages, though most operators believe tech will augment rather than replace human labor.

Overall, while the restaurant industry anticipates continued growth in sales and employment, it also faces ongoing challenges related to profitability, staffing, and adapting to evolving consumer preferences and technological advancements.

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