February 02, 2022

Report: Pandemic leads to long-term industry changes

The Association’s 2022 State of the Restaurant Industry report indicates that in adapting, operators and consumers are evolving.
2022 State of the Restaurant Industry Report Cover

The report details consumer preferences, which can differ significantly by generation, and the trends that are likely to stick.

Supply shortages, rising inflation, higher food and labor costs, plus the roller coaster-effect of COVID-19 variants have hit the industry hard. It’s likely their impact will subside in time—though maybe not this year. 

Still, many of the adaptations operators have had to make in the past two years—and consumers’ responses to those adaptations—speak to an altered restaurant business landscape when the U.S. finally does come out on the other side of the pandemic. 

The 2022 State of the Restaurant Industry report, the National Restaurant Association’s landmark annual forecast, predicts the trends and intentions of operators and consumers in the coming year. Findings are based on surveys of 3,000 restaurant operators and 1,000 consumers. 

In four sections, the Sales & Economic Forecast, Operational Trends, Food & Menu Trends, and Workforce Trends, the report conveys how the pandemic is reshaping the industry in on- and off-premises dining, use of technology, outdoor dining, labor supply, and menu influences and marketing approaches. 
The report also details consumer preferences, which can differ significantly by generation, and the trends they indicate are likely to stick.


Big picture:

  • The foodservice industry is forecast to hit $898B in sales in ’22.
  • Total industry employment is projected to reach 14.9M in ’22 adding only about 400K jobs.
  • Mid ’21, the restaurants-and-accommodations sector had 1.7M job openings, the highest number in the 20-year history of the data set.
  • Roughly half of all operators cite recruitment & retention as the top challenge for ’22.
  • More than half of operators said it will be a year or more before business returns to normal.
  • 40% of operators say they are not open to full capacity for indoor on-premises dining; 7 in 10 report it’s due to staffing shortages.
  • 90% of operators say food costs are higher than they were prior to COVID-19; 8 in 10 say labor costs are higher and costs will likely continue to rise in ’22.
  • 96% of operators report supply shortages or delays of key F&B items in recent months and supply chain is not expected to recover in ’22.
  • 8 in 10 fullservice operators and 2/3 of limited-service operators adjusted menus due to F&B supply issues.
Download a copy of the 2022 State of the Restaurant Industry report. It’s free to members (a $349 value).