According to Statista, restaurant industry sales increased 1.2 percent in 2014 and are forecast to increase 1.5 percent in 2015. This means that the restaurant industry is in its sixth year of positive growth after a recession-induced drop in sales in 2008 and 2009.
What factors are responsible for this surge in sales? We’ve been keeping a pulse on what we believe are two of the most compelling trends in the industry:
Breakfast Time, All the Time
Nutrition experts keep telling us that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Perhaps Americans are finally heeding that advice because the number of people eating breakfast at restaurants increased 4 percent between June 2014 and May 2015, while the number of lunches and dinners “remained flat.”
Leading investment research firm, Zacks, shared these insights in a recent industry analysis—nodding to sales data compiled by restaurant consultancy Technomic.
“The breakfast segment is gaining popularity because it is less costly than other meals and has shorter waiting times,” the article reports. “Sales of exclusive breakfast offerings such as coffee, pancakes and doughnuts have become the traffic growth drivers at most U.S. restaurants, of late, outpacing conventional lunch and dinner items.”
The increasing number of “breakfast visits” has spurred restaurant chains across the United States to make changes. If people want to eat more breakfast foods, why shouldn’t restaurants that sell lunches and dinners also sell breakfasts? And why shouldn’t restaurants that sell all three meals offer breakfast foods throughout the day?
The fact that sales of breakfast foods have increased 4 percent in the last year has significantly fueled overall sales growth in the restaurant industry. Dozens of large-scale restaurant concepts have already risen to meet consumer demand by introducing breakfast options to their menus, re-inventing current offerings, or considering round-the-clock breakfast service.
Table for One
The restaurant industry’s prospects for growth could improve if it takes advantage of another recent trend—solo diners. According to a recent article in The Washington Post, the “death of the family breakfast” has fueled fast-food breakfast sales. Roughly 53 percent of people eat breakfast alone compared to 45 percent of people who eat on their own for lunch and 25 percent for dinner. Additionally, the article reports that it is now rare for single diners to eat at a restaurant without having a technological device with them.
The increased experience of eating alone has inspired some restaurants to change their seating. Common trends include communal dining and bench-like seating to allow solo diners to eat on their own in a more inclusive environment.
Restructuring seating in this way gives customers options and reduces the chance that solo diners will feel awkward for wanting to enjoy their own company. Toss in a mix of solo and shareable dishes and you’ve created an accommodating atmosphere that could increase your sales potential.
In a steadily growing industry, it can be tough to keep track of customer trends. A careful commitment to keep an eye on the market from season to season can help you elevate the customer experience in ways unimaginable.