5 key business trends are focus of new industry report
The restaurant industry continues to experience growth despite some business challenges, new National Restaurant Association research finds.
According to our just-released 2019 State of the Restaurant Industry report, operators say rising costs, increased competition for consumers’ food dollars, and workforce development issues concern them, but they are finding ways to combat those challenges.
Here are five key trends the report finds are shaping the restaurant industry this year:
For restaurants, the business environment remains competitive. Operators indicate that they generally are optimistic about business conditions, but they are also not expecting competitive pressures to ease during the rest of the year. What do they anticipate? They say continuing increases in labor costs, plus the navigation of complex legislation on federal, state and local levels, are on the menu.
A tighter labor market presents increased staffing challenges. The country’s prolonged economic expansion has led to less unemployment and more job openings. As a result, recruiting and retaining employees is a top challenge this year. More than a third of restaurant operators say they have job openings that are difficult to fill, particularly in the back of the house.
May we have some more, please? Pent-up demand is elevated. Although economic growth will moderate this year, consumers are generally upbeat about their personal finances. That confidence, along with a healthy household balance sheet, should lead to additional consumer spending. With consumers’ pent-up demand for restaurant services on the rise, well-positioned operators could boost their foot traffic despite increased competition.
The demand for increased technology continues. Restaurateurs say they plan to ramp up their investments in technology this year, especially on the customer service side. This includes improvements in online or app ordering, reservations, mobile payment and delivery management. Consumers are reporting they want easier, more user-friendly options, particularly where takeout and delivery are concerned.
Sophisticated consumers seek out better, more healthful foods. Chefs tell us that consumers crave food and menu items that dovetail with emerging societal dining trends. Those trends include increased emphasis on local sourcing, healthy options and more eco-friendly foods.