The outlook for the quick-service industry looks at least somewhat brighter in 2010 than it did in 2009, according to the National Restaurant Association (NRA).
The association released its “2010 Restaurant Industry Forecast” this week, reporting that quick serves are projected to rake in $164.8 billion in sales in 2010, a 0.4 percent increase over 2009 when adjusted for inflation.
The 0.4 percent climb in sales would represent a big step up for the industry, which experienced a 0.7 percent drop in real sales in 2009 over 2008.
The restaurant industry overall is projected to earn $580 billion in sales this year, remaining flat over 2009 after accounting for inflation.
“The past two years have been a very challenging time for our industry,” said Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of the NRA, in a statement. “While there are still substantial challenges ahead, we are encouraged that the outlook is improving.”
According to the NRA’s forecast, 42 percent of quick-serve operators expect business to be better in 2010 than it was in 2009. Only 19 percent think business will be worse, while 39 percent think it will stay the same.
The NRA’s forecast also suggests that quick-service operators will invest more in modernizing their units this year. Forty-three percent of operators surveyed said they will spend more on remodeling and renovation this year over last; 42 percent said they will invest more in technology; and almost a third said they will spend more on green initiatives.
Other quick-service trends that the NRA predicts will help the industry out of its slump include adding Wi-Fi capability, using social media marketing, offering healthy eating menu options, providing delivery for customers, and installing self-serve ordering systems within stores.
Operators still foresee challenges over the course of 2010, according to the report. Some 47 percent of operators expect obtaining credit and financing to be more difficult in 2010 than they were last year, and the economy and building/maintaining sales volume each garnered 30 percent when operators were asked what the biggest challenges were for the year.
Sweeney said in the statement released by the NRA that recovery within the restaurant industry is a big step for the nation as a whole.
“With a total economic impact of more than $1.5 trillion, the restaurant industry is a strong player in the economic recovery,” she said. “Restaurants are the cornerstone of communities across this nation and we are a key player in propelling job retention and creation across the United States.”
The NRA will release a more in-depth “Quickservice Restaurant Trends” report to members in February.
By Sam Oches