Fourth at NRA Chicago 2017: Everyone’s talking about…#7: US Restaurant Trends

Written by: Catherine Marshall

This year the Fourth team visited the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago to meet old friends and make new ones, listen, learn and see the amazing new developments in the US market - about 10x the size of the UK market. Over four days, the organizers claim that nearly 50,000 restaurant professionals from all over the US and beyond will visit.

I hope this series of short blogs will provide an interesting glimpse into some of the industry issues occupying the minds of US restaurant leadership, as well as shedding some light on the up and coming US restaurant trends.

Many, many of these are similar to the UK’s issues – employee recruitment and retention, labor cost, supply chain pressures, the perpetual battle for customer loyalty in a competitive landscape, legislation, allergens and nutrition to name just a few.

This blog, the final in a series of seven, looks at some of the current US restaurant trends.

#7: Everyone’s talking about…US restaurant trends

All around the restaurant teams…

  • US restaurant trendsHalf of all American adults have worked in the restaurant industry at some point during their lives.
  • 1 in 3 Americans got their first job experience in a restaurant.
  • 8 in 10 restaurant owners say their first job in the restaurant industry was an entry-level position.
  • 9 in 10 restaurant managers started in entry-level positions.
  • The number of women-owned restaurant businesses increased 40% between 2007 and 2012 – well above the 12% increase in all restaurant businesses.
  • The number of Hispanic-owned restaurant businesses jumped 51% between 2007 and 2012, while black- or African-American-owned restaurants increased 49%

All around the diners…

  • 9 in 10 consumers say they enjoy going to restaurants.
  • 2 in 5 consumers say restaurants are an essential part of their lifestyle.
  • 7 in 10 consumers say their favorite restaurant foods provide flavors they can’t easily duplicate at home.
  • 8 in 10 consumers say dining out with family and friends is a better use of their leisure time than cooking and cleaning up.

All around the numbers…

  • Restaurant industry sales are projected to total $798.7 billion in 2017 and equal 4% of the U.S. gross domestic product.
  • The restaurant industry is projected to employ 14.7 million people in 2017 – about one in 10 working Americans.
  • The restaurant industry is expected to add 1.6 million jobs over the next decade, with employment reaching 16.3 million by 2027.
  • More than 9 in 10 restaurants have fewer than 50 employees.
  • More than 7 in 10 restaurants are single-unit operations.
  • Sales per full-time-equivalent employee at eating and drinking places in 2016 were $79,400.
  • Average unit sales in 2014 were $992,000 at fullservice restaurants and $861,000 at quickservice restaurants.


Source: National Restaurant Association

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