If Americans love one thing, it's food! Lining the streets of rural and small-town America and the hustle and bustle of big cities, restaurants of all varieties provide everything from Italian fare to Tex-Mex. From fast food to fine dining, the choices are endless. It is no surprise that this year it is projected that Americans will spend as much as $771 billion on food, which is up from 2021, where revenue topped $600 billion.
Due to the American love of all things cuisine, the restaurant sector not only survived the pandemic; those that pivoted to adapt to new circumstances were able to thrive. And in a post-pandemic recovery, forecasts are that there will be no end to the growth that the restaurant industry can experience in the next few years and beyond.
Restaurant franchises are more abundant than any other type of franchise in the American market. In 2021, a record 204,555 quick-food restaurants were in existence, up 1.3% from the year before. Additionally, 149,333 full-service restaurants are currently in operation. Franchises are the majority in the restaurant industry, mainly due to consumers' desire for consistency in products and services.
In the face of the COVID pandemic, fast or quick-food restaurants experienced modest growth, yes, but when other industries were trying to survive, fast food was still turning a profit. The quick-service restaurant category includes establishments that offer limited-service eateries, fast food restaurants, carry-out, and restaurants and other outlets that serve convenience meals that don't require long wait times and offer only limited service to customers.
As we head into a post-pandemic economy, tensions about social distancing are starting to ease. Whether it will be a thing of the past or develop some hybrid of how it used to be combined with social space awareness remains to be seen. One industry hit hard by the pandemic is the food and hospitality sector. Some restaurants were forced to close their doors, while those who pivoted to alter their offerings and processes could stay afloat. Some even thrived in a new age of entertainment and dining.
According to leading forecasters, 2022 will be marked with numerous economic challenges, including the restaurant industry. Issues such as supply chain difficulties, frequent COVID infections still taking people from work, and the overall labor shortage and "Great Resignation" are all taking their toll on society as a whole and are being felt in the hospitality industry.
There are also concerns that the shortage of available goods will drive inflation, leading to a downturn in the economy, and will likely plague the U.S. at least through 2023. In turn, inflation will make grain and beef products cost approximately 60% more than last year. The consumer will eventually absorb those increased costs, which will likely cut back and choose to prepare meals at home.
For restaurants to remain profitable, they must find new menu offerings with fewer choices and higher prices. Currently, consumer prices are already up an estimated 4%, which is an increase that we have not witnessed in nearly a decade.
The good news is that although costs are climbing, consumers are so happy to return to engagement with the outside world that they are willing to shoulder the increased costs. Despite the new COVID variant issues and other economic uncertainties that plague the U.S. and the world, consumer spending is beginning to rebound.
The biggest hurdle at the moment is the labor shortage. Some workers laid off during the pandemic enjoy the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance that allows them to stay comfortably at home without returning to work. Many restaurants have offered incentive programs like higher pay and more considerable perks to get workers to return. However, those costs will eventually come down the pipeline and fall on the consumer. Labor costs currently are at a 20-year high. Combining that with the inflation rate equals higher menu costs, and how consumers respond is uncertain.
Donuts have been around as long as apple pie and baseball, and Americans can’t seem to get enough. Donut stores' market share in the food industry is over $7 billion, with nearly 14,000 various businesses, and will continue to grow 5.47% in 2021. As we head into a post-pandemic economy, sales of donuts are forecasted to grow. If you are looking for a franchise opportunity, the Donut Experiment might be your ticket to financial freedom and wealth accumulation. Unlike other donut giants in the industry, there is still plenty of uncharted territory for owners to claim!