WASHINGTON—Restaurant industry sales are projected to reach a record $899 billion in 2020, with a moderate 4% growth rate mirroring general economic conditions, according to the recently released National Restaurant Association 2020 State of the Restaurant Industry Report.
“Now in its eleventh consecutive year of growth, the restaurant industry is adapting to consumer preferences faster than ever before,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president, research and knowledge group for the association, in a press release. “Consumers tell us they want to use restaurants more than they are now, and the challenge for the industry is meeting consumers where they want to be. We expect this year will see growth in off-premises options, technology that streamlines operations, and more restaurants that are talking about their increased sustainable and eco-friendly practices.”
Off-premises will be a prominent force of growth in 2020. To be successful, restaurant operators will look to strike the perfect formula of on- and off-premises for their business as consumers strive for convenience but continue to look to the social escape that restaurants provide. When asked about ways in which restaurants could incorporate more technology, consumers primarily mention frictionless, convenience- and service-enhancing items, rather than people-eliminating items.
The restaurant industry remains one of the economy's most important employers—for a year or for a career. The restaurant industry will provide a projected 15.6 million restaurant and foodservice jobs in 2020.
Consumer interest in healthy menu options will remain strong in 2020, and consumers will make decisions based on the availability of healthy offerings. Alcohol is a key driver of sales in the fine dining segment, with nearly two-thirds of orders including alcoholic beverages. In 2020, alcohol will expand further beyond this segment with operators in all but one category planning to increase their alcoholic beverage offerings to keep up with changing consumer tastes and preferences.
“Consumers are embracing the industry more as they continue to shift their spending away from physical items and towards experiences. This opens channels of opportunity and growth in food, beverage, and technology. We're excited to see how these trends and developments play out in 2020 and beyond,” said Riehle.