Analysts Predict Growth, Strong Sales for Restaurants in 2011


If indications are correct, 2011 could turn out to be a banner year for the restaurant industry. According to industry analysts, sales are expected to increase in this new year, an apparent four-year high. Research firm Technomic recently released a report predicting that total U.S. food service sales will shadow 2010 with an increase of 1.7% in sales on a nominal basis and dipping just .3% on a real basis, taking inflation into menu price consideration. Should the forecast come to fruition, it would be the most growth since 2008.

David Tarantino, an analyst at financial management firm Baird, agrees, reporting that he sees “good things ahead for the restaurant industry in 2011.” In an article from Forbes via the Associated Press, Tarantino announced last week that due to the strong sales in 2010 amongst restaurant chains, he believes food service to be in a “correction phase”, noting companies that “cater to higher-income customers, such as fast-casual and cafe chains” will see the most stabilization and growth.

USAToday is also reporting that despite the still-ailing U.S. job market, restaurants and other food service destinations were the biggest job producers in 2010, with the industry adding 130,000 jobs since August.

“It’s an important sector to have growing because it … consistently adds significant numbers of jobs during expansions,” says Dean Maki, chief U.S. economist of Barclays Capital. “It’s a very reliable indicator that the overall job market is picking up.”

Unfortunately, I’m not sure I’ve seen much of that growth everywhere, with a handful of notable local restaurants shuttering their doors over the past few weeks, leaving a number of talented chefs, bartenders, and service staff without employment.

I recently had a chance to sit down with local Portland winemaker Scott Wright to discuss where he’s been, where he’s going, and what makes his Scott Paul wines stand out apart from the others. Stay tuned to Daily Blender next week for that exclusive interview!

~Jennifer Heigl


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