Overall restaurant industry performance to remain positive in 2014 and 2015, per Technomic.
Following largely weather-related lackluster first quarter results, Technomic estimates the restaurant industry will grow at a rate of 3.3 percent for 2014, a downward shift from its initial annual forecast of 3.5 percent. Taking an early look to 2015, Technomic estimates the industry will grow 3.1 percent next year.
In real terms, this translates into 0.1 percent growth in 2014 and 1.2 percent in 2015, according to Technomic. "Industry growth is decelerating," said Joe Pawlak, senior vice president for Technomic, during the Chicago-based market research firm's Trends and Directions Conference, which took place last week. "The industry is still growing at a positive rate but just not as fast as before."
This is due to the fact that despite an improving economic environment, consumers remain cautious, Pawlak said. "Consumer confidence is better than the low point of February 2009 but it remains a ways off from the glory days of 2007," he added. "So consumers are gaining confidence but slowly. It's a good news story but it does not necessarily translate into how they are spending."
Sales at limited-service restaurants will grow at a nominal rate of 3.5 percent and remain flat in real terms in 2014, according to Technomic's projections. For 2015, Technomic projects sales at limited-service restaurants will grow 3 percent nominally and 1 percent in real terms.
Full-service restaurant sales will grow at a nominal rate of 2.5 percent or -1 percent in real terms in 2014, according to Technomic. For 2015, Technomic projects sales at full-service restaurants will grow 3 percent nominally and 1 percent in real terms.
Technomic also projects sales at bars and taverns will grow at a nominal rate of 2.5 percent or -1 percent in real terms in 2014. Next year, this segment will grow at a rate of 2.5 percent nominally and 0.5 percent in real terms.
Turning back to 2014, Technomic's updated estimates show a 2 percent decline in overall industry sales in the first quarter. Along those lines, Technomic reported that 65 percent of consumers said the bad weather had a negative impact on their ability to go out to eat. And 61 percent of consumers said the weather had a negative impact on their desire to go out to eat. The good news is that 51 percent of consumers anticipated dining at restaurants more during the spring, Technomic reported.