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Forecast: Registers to Ring, Economy in Swing

By: Susan Spielberg, Nation’s Restaurant News

An improving economy and the prospect of more money in consumer’s wallets have industry observers projecting that restaurateurs will hear the happy sound of ringing cash registers.

Restaurant industry sales are expected to jump 4.4 percent to $440.1 billion, according to the National Restaurant Association. The strong sales performance is predicted to be widespread across all geographic regions and most industry segments.

“That ($440.2 billion) is a huge amount, 4% of the nation’s gross domestic product,” declares Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of Research and Information Services for the National Restaurant Association. He points out that the annual sales forecast averages out to about $1.2 billion per day.

Restaurant industry sales currently account for 46.4% of the food dollar in the United States.

Riehle notes that the industry plays a key role in the labor market, employing 12 million people, or 9 percent of the U.S. workforce. “Each $1 million in sales for the restaurant industry generates an additional 40 jobs for the economy as a whole,” he says. “The industry is very labor intensive, and the number of employees will continue to grow.”

In 2003 the restaurant industry added 1.2% more jobs to the economy even though overall employment in the United States fell, the NRA says. The association predicts that the industry will employ 13.5 million people by 2014.

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