What makes the restaurant industry so interesting?
It’s always changing.
You joined the industry to make a difference. To deliver food to guests who will rave about it for months to come. To open a restaurant that inspires palettes. To remain on the cutting-edge, offering the best guest experience anyone could ask for.
However, you also want to keep a keen eye on the competitive market, what new technologies such as restaurant POS systems to track, what kind of food guests want, and what numbers you can use to benchmark your restaurant sales and team productivity. But you can't find the time. While new studies are published every day and covered on sites like Restaurant Hospitality and National Restaurant News, it’s easy to lose track of the latest restaurant industry statistics.
This list solves that problem. Updated frequently, it includes all recent restaurant management statistics every restaurant owner should know.
For even more 2017 restaurant statistics from 2017, download your free copy of the Toast Restaurant Success in 2017 Industry Report to see data on marketing, social media, technology, sales forecasting, industry optimism, and more!
General Restaurant Statistics
- Annual sales in the restaurant industry are $799 billion. (Source)
- Annual food and beverage purchases are projected to be at $279 billion for the year. (Source)
- Employees in the restaurant industry are 14.7 million. (Source)
- There are more than 1 million restaurant locations in the U.S. (Source)
Restaurant Economy Statistics
- In 1955, the restaurant industry comprised 25% of the family food dollar. In the present, that number has risen to 47%. (Source)
- Real disposable income will post a moderate gain in 2016, with a 2.6% projected rate. (Source; NRA projections).
- Food services and drinking places employment continued to trend up in August 2016 (+34,000). Over the year, the industry has added 312,000 jobs. (Source)
- Gas prices have bounced off recent lows at ~$2.50 in 2016 compared to ~$3.50 in 2015, meaning more consumers are likely to drive out to dine. (Source)
- American consumers spend 32.9% of their income on housing, 17% on transportation, and 12.5% on food. (Source)
- Wholesale food prices are on pace to decline for the second straight year, with a 3.2% projected rate. (Source; NRA projections)
Restaurant Management Statistics
- Government and labor costs / minimum wage are the top challenges facing restaurant operators in 2016. 22% of respondents to an NRA survey ranked government as a top challenge, 19% ranked food costs, 18% ranked economy, 16% ranked recruiting employees, and 10% ranked sales volume. (Source)
- 46% of all restaurateurs in a Toast survey listed hiring, training, and retaining restaurant staff as their #1 challenge. (Source)
- The Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) fell to 99.6 in September 2016. This is an indicator of a decline in same-store sales and customer traffic. (Source)
- Menu price growth remains moderate at 2.7% in 2016 compared to 2.9% in 2015. (Source)
- Restaurants are extremely labor-intensive. Average sales per full-time equivalent non-supervisory employee in 2015 was $56,000, compared to $226,000 for grocery stores. (Source, based on data from BLS and U.S. Census Bureau)
Restaurant Sales Statistics
- The national average for projected restaurant sales growth in 2016 is 5%. The states with the most projected restaurant sales growth in 2016 are Florida (7.4%), Nevada (7.3%), and Oregon (6.9%). (Source)
- The states with the highest actual restaurant sales growth in 2016 are California ($79 billion), Texas ($52 billion), New York ($42 billion), Florida ($40 billion), and Illinois ($24 billion). (Source)
- Restaurant sales remain above 2015 levels, with ~$55 billion monthly being spent in May 2016 compared to ~$51 billion spent in May 2015. (Source)
- Total restaurant industry sales have grown 5% in the past year, with $746 billion spent in 2015 compared to $783 billion in 2016. (Source)
- Tableservice restaurant sales have grown 4.9% in the past year, with $247 billion spent in 2015 compared to $259 billion in 2016. (Source)
- Limited-service restaurants sales have grown 5.9% in the past year, with $211 billion spent in 2015 compared to $223 billion in 2016. (Source)
- Snack and nonalcoholic beverage bar sales have grown 6.8% in the past year, with $35.9 billion in 2015 compared to $38.3 billion in 2016. (Source)
Restaurant Consumer Statistics
- Pent-up demand for restaurants remains high, with 45% of adults NOT eating on premises at restaurants as often as they would like as of May 2016. This number has risen 15% since 2007. (Source)
- 30% of consumers regularly shop for groceries at four or more stores. (Source)
- 47% of consumers say they would buy fresh, uncooked food items from restaurants. (Source)
- 90% of Americans enjoy going to restaurants, compared to 66% who enjoy going to grocery stores. (Source)
- 56% of adults say they would rather spend money on an experience, such as a restaurant or other activity, compared to purchasing an item from a store. (Source)
- 56% of guests order from a restaurant’s website online daily, weekly, or monthly. 43% order “rarely” or “never.” (Source)
- 58% of restaurant guests never use mobile payments such as Apple Pay, LevelUp, Samsung Pay, etc. (Source)
- Most guests (78%) find restaurants to try based on recommendations from their friends. However, the second most popular way guests find new restaurants was through social media. (Source)
Restaurant Technology Statistics
- 83% of adults use smartphones or tablets to look up restaurant locations, directions, and hours. 75% look up menus, 55% read reviews, 51% order takeout or delivery directly from the restaurant website, and 50% use rewards or special deals. (Source)
- 3 out of 4 consumers say they would go to a restaurant during off-peak times if they received a discount. (Source)
- 79% of diners agree that restaurant technology improves their guest experience. (Source).
- The most important technology feature for guests are online reservations (36%), free wifi (23%), and online or mobile ordering (19%). (Source)
- The top features restaurateurs are looking for in a POS upgrade are: inventory management (20%), online ordering (13%) and PCI compliance (9%). (Source)
- 68% of diners agree that server handheld tablets improve their guest experience. (Source)
- Restaurant operators are have increased mainstream technology use by 14% since 2016 with, 12% calling their technology "leading edge," 54% calling their technology "mainstream," 32% calling their technology "lagging," and 2% saying they "don't know." (Source)
- Four in five restaurant operators agree that restaurant technology helps increase sales, make their restaurant more productive, and gives their restaurant a competitive edge. (Source)
Restaurant Payment Statistics
- 58% of restaurant guests never pay with their mobile device. That said, 16% do pay with their mobile device monthly, 20% weekly, and 5% daily. (Source)
- When a kiosk has been available, 65% have used a kiosk, with 55% saying they use it “sometimes” and 10% saying they use it “every time.” 35% have opted out from using it. (Source)
- When paying for a low-ticket item (e.g. coffee), guests voted an almost even split between cash, credit, and debit. The majority prefer to pay with cash at 30%. (Source)
- When paying for a high-ticket item (e.g. fancy dinner) most guests prefer to pay with credit at 55%. (Source)
- Most people prefer email receipts (42%). Next, they prefer print receipts (29%) and then no receipts (18%).
Restaurant Food Statistics
- 3 out of 4 Americans say they are more likely to choose a restaurant that offers healthy menu options. (Source)
- 70% of American consumers say they are more likely to visit a restaurant that offers locally sourced food items. (Source)
- 85% of American consumers prefer to eat ethnic cuisine in a restaurant focused on that cuisine. (Source)
- 25% of American consumers like trying unconventional ingredients. (Source)
- 72% of consumers say restaurant food provides tastes and flavors they can't duplicate at home. (Source)
- Future trends (predicted for the year 2020) will include local sourcing, fresh produce, healthy eating, and an emphasis on authentic items. (Source)
- The most important factor in a dining experience, according to our survey, is delicious food at 60%, and quality service at 22%. (Source)