The National Restaurant Association has released it's 2019 state of the industry report.
Here are some of the key findings:
Restaurant industry sales are forecast to reach $863 billion in 2019.
Approximately half of restaurant operators surveyed say their business is stronger than it was two years ago.
The industry employs 15.3 million workers and continues to be the country’s second largest private-sector employer. By 2029, the industry will have added 1.6 million new restaurant jobs.
Restaurant operators are generally optimistic about business conditions with nearly 75% describing conditions as good or excellent.
The biggest challenge operators face is the tight labor market putting upward pressure on wages. 35 percent of restaurant operators indicate that they currently have job openings that are proving hard to fill. Overall, finding employees for back-of-the-house positions is the toughest.
Off-premises and delivery continue to be strong growth areas. Thirty-eight percent of U.S. adults—including 50 percent of millennials—say they’re more likely to have restaurant food delivered than they were two years ago.
More than six in 10 family-dining, casual-dining and fast-casual operators say their off-premises sales, which include takeout and delivery, are higher than they were two years ago. Nearly four in 10 operators plan to invest more capital in expanding their off-premises business in 2019.
Restaurant operators continue to invest in technology to increase efficiency and stay competitive.