Foodservice Equipment Reports

NRA Forecasts Stronger Though Still Moderate Growth In 2015

Restaurant and foodservice sales will rise 3.8% in current dollars and 1.5% in real terms, according to the National Restaurant Association’s annual Restaurant Industry Forecast, released Jan. 27. The forecast projects stronger industry growth than the previous two years—the group estimates nominal industry growth at 3.2% in 2013 and 3.6% last year—but continues to call the operating environment “challenging.” It is the sixth consecutive year of growth for foodservice since the end of the Great Recession, according to the association. The new forecast is very much in line with the 2015 forecast by Technomic Inc., which in mid-January was revised up to 3.9% nominal growth and a 1.5% real gain.

“With the economy slowly improving and national employment trending upward, signs are pointing in the right direction for restaurant industry growth,” said Hudson Riehle, the NRA’s senior v.p. of research, during the release of the forecast. “Certain components of the business climate remain a challenge…but the overall industry is definitely in a better place now than several years ago.”

NRA President and CEO Dawn Sweeney noted that, “The restaurant and foodservice industry remains a fundamental driver of the nation’s economy, while providing valuable careers and opportunities to 14 million Americans.” The group forecasts that 2015 will see a 3.2% increase in employment following a 3.1% gain in 2014 and will mark the 16th consecutive year of growing restaurant industry employment.

Among the segments, the NRA continues to forecast slower growth of full-service restaurant sales compared with limited-service sales growth. “Table-service” restaurant sales growth is forecast to be 2.9% in current dollars with real growth of 0.6%. Limited-service restaurant sales are pegged at 4.3% nominal growth and 2.1% real growth. These forecasts contrast with Technomic’s forecasts, which predict full-service will post stronger growth than limited-service in 2015.

Among segments forecast by NRA to see above average growth are lodging foodservice, retail hosts including supermarkets, snack and nonalcoholic beverage bars, social caterers, hospitals and nursing homes, primary and secondary schools, transportation and recreation foodservice.

NRA’s 2015 Restaurant Industry Forecast contains a wealth of information on the industry, including state and national restaurant forecasts, economic and consumer trends analyses, food and menu trends, and employment trends. It is available for purchase from the NRA at restaurant.org. Members of the NRA receive a discount.