National Restaurant Association Predicts 2011 U.S. Restaurant Rebound

According to the NRA, after three years of negative real sales, America’s restaurant industry is poised for a comeback.  In its “2011 Restaurant Industry Forecast,” the NRA predicts a record $604 billion in annual sales this year – an aggregate sales increase of 3.6% over 2010 (1.1% in inflation-adjusted terms).

Here are a few key highlights from the forecast:

  • Quickservice restaurants are projected to post sales of $167.7 billion this year (up 3.3% over 2010).
  • Fullservice sales are projected to reach $194.6 billion in 2011.
  • The social catering segment of the foodservice industry will experience the strongest growth, increasing sales by 6.2% in 2011.
  • Among our 50 states, North Carolina is predicted to experience the highest 2011 sales growth at 4.2%.
  • In 2011, the restaurant industry will add jobs at a rate of 2.4% (compared to an expected 1.8% for the nation’s economy as a whole).
  • The recession has created substantial “stored” demand for restaurant services, as more than two out of five consumers say they do not dine out or get take out as often as they’d like.
  • In the future, social media will be a more important marketing tool for the restaurant industry, with more than half of restaurant operators reporting that they’re likely to incorporate Facebook, online review sites, Twitter and blogs into their marketing mixes over the next 24 months.

Hudson Riehle, Senior VP of the NRA, reviews economic, workforce, consumer and menu trends for the restaurant industry in 2011:

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