Foodservice Equipment Reports

NRA Forecast Posits Interesting Shifts In Segment Growth

Foodservice management companies and self-operated institutions in noncommercial segments will grow slightly faster than eating and drinking places in 2012, the National Restaurant Association predicts in its annual industry forecast. It’s a realistic acknowledgement that many restaurant operators continue to deal with flat traffic and stagnant same-store sales growth, as the effects of the Great Recession on consumer spending continues, and that the market’s recovery from the most significant downturn in foodservice sales in at least 60 years continues to be slow and painful.

NRA predicts full-service restaurants will see sales growth of only 2.9% in current dollars and a mere 0.2% in real terms this year. Quick-service sales growth will be only slightly stronger, at 3.1% nominal and 0.4% real rates. But the group, which categorizes sales for “managed services” in noncommercial segments separately from those of self-operated organizations, sees growth of 4.3% nominal for management companies and 3.7% for self-ops. The group also forecasts military foodservice will post strong 6% growth as personnel return home from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Growth forecasts in other key “non-restaurant” segments include a gain of 4.7% for lodging foodservice and 4.4% for recreation and sports. Both business and personal travel have increased at faster rates than restaurant usage. Foodservice in retail outlets, which includes supermarkets, convenience stores and other retail “hosts,” is expected to see another year of strong growth, at 5.9%. And NRA has nearly all the noncommercial segments, even the much battered business and industry segment, growing slightly faster than the forecast 3.1% rate at eating and drinking places. In NRA’s segmentation of total industry sales, eating and drinking places account for 69.3% of the market.