February 05, 2024

2024 State of the Restaurant Industry 

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The restaurant and foodservice industry will continue to grow in 2024. 

Sales are forecast to top $1 trillion for the first time in history, and the nation’s second-largest private sector employer is on track to add 200,000 jobs, pushing total employment to 15.7 million people. 

Operators are relying more on technology to meet challenges, to reduce labor, cut costs and boost business, applying tech solutions to marketing, recruiting, accounting, inventory management and more.  

But given a choice between people and technology, consumers continue to crave human hospitality in their culinary experiences.

Key findings:   
  • Sales are up: The foodservice industry is forecast to reach $1 trillion in sales in 2024.
  • Restaurants are hiring: The industry workforce is projected to grow by 200,000 jobs, for total industry employment of 15.7M by the end of 2024. 45% of operators need more employees to meet customer demand.
  • Competition is strong: In 2024, 45% of operators expect competition to be more intense than last year. 
  • Costs are up: 98% of operators say higher labor costs are an issue for their restaurant. 97% cite higher food costs. 38% say their restaurants were not profitable last year.
  • Consumers are value conscious: Nearly half of consumers are taking a wait-and see stance when it comes to spending. Operators who offer a solid value proposition for dining out can nudge customers out of their holding pattern.
  • Consumers love restaurants: 9 in 10 adults say they enjoy going to restaurants. Restaurants allow them to enjoy a favorite meal that has flavor and taste sensations they can’t easily replicate at home.
The 2024 State of the Restaurant Industry report is the authoritative source for industry sales projections and trends. It is based on analysis and forecasts by National Restaurant Association economists and surveys of restaurant operators and consumers conducted throughout the year.

The report examines key factors impacting the industry including the current state of the economy, operations, workforce, and food and menu trends to forecast sales and market trends for the year ahead.

The 2024 State of the Restaurant Industry report is free to members and $349 for nonmembers.


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