Market research firm Technomic Inc. revised upward its 2011 forecast for the foodservice industry, citing improved macroeconomic data and increased sales momentum among many restaurants in the fourth quarter.
The Chicago-based firm released new numbers this week showing a 0.7 percentage point increase in expected sales for food and beverage, including alcohol, across the U.S. foodservice industry. Expectations for sales at U.S. restaurants and bars also were increased by 0.7 percentage points.
“It is not a monumental change, it’s a tweak, but it’s a tweak toward the positive,” Joe Pawlak, vice president at Technomic said.
This year, the restaurant industry is expected to post nominal sales growth of 2.3 percent. Excluding menu price inflation, real growth for restaurants is expected to decrease 0.2 percent. Technomic’s original forecast from last fall called for restaurant sector growth of 1.6 percent on a nominal basis, or a drop of 0.4 percent on a real basis.
“The major point that led to this change was an improvement overall in the economic situation,” Pawlak said. “GDP growth is pretty strong … the employment picture is getting better.
He also noted the sales momentum that many restaurant chains reported in the fourth quarter. This week both Starbucks and Wendy’s cited strong sales through the end of last year that the companies expect to continue in 2011.
Technomic also raised its projected menu price inflation for 2011 from 2 percent in the September forecast to 2.5 percent in the January forecast. Pawlak said the move reflected increasing commodity prices that will most likely lead restaurants to raise menu prices. Already some large players like McDonald’s and Einstein Noah have said they will take selective price increases as commodity costs rise.
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