Surprising stats from the National Restaurant Association's annual report
I know you’ve heard this before, because I know I’ve said it a ton: one of the most challenging long-term effects of the pandemic has been how hard it is to see and understand the future. The usual signs and signals were scrambled, no one knew what might come next, and it was hard to understand what — beyond Covid, of course — was causing all of the upheaval.
This is still happening. In technology: layoffs, funding struggles, valuation drops. In hospitality: worker “shortages,” inflation, rising costs of services, overall uncertainty about the future of labor. Even the experts from the Federal Reserve have trouble understanding what comes next. This week, Minneapolis Fed president Neel Kashkari cited “concerning data points suggesting we're not making progress as quickly as we'd like,” referring to higher than expected inflation and better than expected jobs reports.
I, like plenty of other futurists and business owners and restaurant operators, am hungry for any data points that show where things might be headed. Three years in to a life-changing global pandemic must be long enough to glean some level of clarity, right? … Right?
The National Restaurant Association just released its annual State of the Industry report, chronicling what we might expect based on what restaurant operators say they’re expecting. Yes, this NRA is a lobbying organization largely beholden to the interests of corporate restaurant groups. But also, its survey findings can have real business implications. And some of these results are unexpected!
Before I get to the surprising, here’s some unsurprising: Two-thirds of adult consumers say they’re more likely to order food for takeout than they were before the pandemic. Ninety percent of operators say inflation poses a significant challenge for business. Over half of restaurant operators say they don’t have enough employees. These statistics are reflective of larger trends we’ve seen. (Sometimes the future is predictable.)
Onto the interesting stuff! Here’s more of what I learned:
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