Foodservice Equipment Reports

NRA Forecasts Moderate 3.8% Sales Growth For 2013

The National Restaurant Association expects continuing modest growth for the foodservice industry next year, in spite of many uncertainties, with current dollar growth forecast at 3.8% and growth after price inflation of 0.8%. While modest, it would mark the fourth consecutive year of growth in the U.S. foodservice industry, with sales estimated at $660.5 billion.

The group released its annual Restaurant Industry Forecast Tuesday, Dec. 11, just as we were uploading this issue of FER Fortnightly. We will provide a fuller report and analysis in the next issue. But the general economic environment the NRA foresees was discussed in detail last week by the association’s Chief Economist Bruce Grindy, in his monthly economic blog posted Dec. 3.

He notes that 53% of American adult consumers rated the national economy as “poor” according to NRA’s National Household Survey conducted in October. Only one in 10 of the households surveyed see it as “excellent” or “good.”  But Grindy also points out that American households have significantly reduced their debt levels since ’08, freeing up disposable income. NRA earlier reported that consumers report significant pent-up demand for restaurant use.

Still, until job growth gets off its current cycle of a few months of decent increases followed by a few months of tepid growth, consumers are unlikely to pull the trigger on robust spending, including for foodservice. Grindy forecast only a slight improvement in annual job growth, from 1.4% in ’12 to 1.5% in the coming year.

The entire economic outlook is clouded, of course, by all the uncertainties surrounding federal tax and deficit reduction policies. “Swift and decisive action by policymakers will be needed to even keep the economy on its current path of moderate growth,” Grindy wrote.

Information on purchasing NRA’s 2013 Restaurant Industry Forecast, which contains extensive analysis and data on industry culinary and employment trends, state-level forecasts for growth of foodservice sales and more, can be found at restaurant.org.

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