National Restaurant Association Releases 2022 State of the Restaurant Industry Report

2022 remains a year of transition as the road to recovery continues; Labor challenges are a top concern for operators

National Restaurant Association Releases 2022 State of the Restaurant Industry ReportWashington D.C. ( Today the National Restaurant Association released its 2022 State of the Restaurant Industry Report, which measures the restaurant industry’s continued recovery and examines the state of current and emerging trends in key categories including technology and business off-premises, operations, labour, food and menus, etc.

Key findings illustrating how the restaurant industry is continuing its recovery include:

  • The restaurant industry is expected to reach $898 billion in sales in 2022.
  • The restaurant industry workforce is expected to grow by 400,000 jobs, for total industry employment of 14.9 million by the end of 2022.
  • More than half of restaurateurs said it would take a year or more before business conditions return to normal.
  • Food, labor and occupancy costs are expected to remain elevated and continue to impact restaurant profit margins in 2022.
  • Ninety-six percent of operators experienced supply delays or shortages of key food or beverages in 2021 – and these challenges are likely to continue into 2022.
  • Fifty-one percent of adults say they don’t eat out as often as they would like, up six percentage points from before the pandemic.

“The restaurant and foodservice industry has adapted and continues with absolute resilience, so we are optimistic about the path to recovery over the coming year,” said Marvin Irby, President and interim CEO of the National Restaurant Association. “We still have work to do to ensure that the operators who struggle the most can survive. The Association will continue to advocate for the necessary government support at the federal and local levels to help keep these businesses – cornerstones of our communities – on the path to better days.

Offsite recovery enhanced by improved technology

A few years ago, restaurants would not have been able to handle the level of off-premises demand during the pandemic. Technological advancements are becoming table stakes for this long-term business channel, with more than eight in 10 operators saying that using technology in a restaurant provides a competitive advantage, and a good proportion of operators plan to increase investments in technology this year. Many operators will dedicate their resources to online or app ordering, reservations, mobile payment or delivery management, in addition to back-of-the-house technology. This is validated by a large number of consumers preferring the use of technology where it does not diminish hospitality.

Last year also continued to drive consumer demand for on-the-go alcohol and al fresco dining, with nearly four in 10 consumers saying the availability of outdoor seating would make them more likely to choose a restaurant rather than another similar one. Other operational takeaways include:

  • Fifty-four percent of adults say buying takeout or delivery is essential to their lifestyle, including 72% of millennials and 66% of Gen Z adults.
  • About half of U.S. restaurateurs believe having sidewalk, parking lot, or street seating will become more common in their segment this year.
  • Seventy percent of Gen Z adults (21+) and 62% of Millennials say the ability to include alcohol in a takeout or delivery order would make them more likely to choose a restaurant instead. than another similar restaurant.

Help (always) wanted in the restaurant industry

While the restaurant and catering industry added 1.7 million jobs in 2021 for a total of 14.5 million employees at the end of the year, many restaurants remain in serious under- workforce, which will continue to limit industry growth in 2022.

Despite some gains, 7 in 10 operators across all major segments say their restaurant currently does not have enough employees to meet customer demand and most operators expect their workforce issues to work will continue next year. Key figures on the restaurant workforce include:

  • About 50% of restaurant owners in the full-service, quick-service and quick-service segments expect recruiting and retaining employees to be their biggest challenge in 2022.
  • Between 2023 and 2030, the industry is expected to create an average of 200,000 jobs each year, with total workforces reaching 16.5 million by 2030.
  • Seventy-five percent of operators said they plan to devote more resources to recruiting and retaining employees.

Simplified menus with more plant-based options and sustainable packaging

Wellness has gained notoriety, with chefs ranking foods said to boost immunity and plant-based sandwiches in a list of the top 10 trends for 2022. Sustainable packaging, quality and food preservation options Temperatures also reign in 2022 as operators continue to work to provide the best possible offsite experience for customers. Meanwhile, restaurant menu offerings remain reduced from pre-pandemic levels due to supply delays or shortages of food and beverages, and high food costs. Key food and beverage trend data points include:

  • Eighty-eight percent of adults (including 94% of millennials) say they would be likely to try ordering a wider variety of food items for takeout or delivery if the restaurant used packaging that helps food stand out. maintain the same temperature, taste and quality as when served in a restaurant.
  • Six in 10 full-service operators say their menu has fewer offerings now than before the pandemic.
  • Fifty-seven percent of adults say they would likely participate in a meal subscription program if it was offered by one of their favorite restaurants. Eight in 10 millennials and Gen Z adults say they would use this option.

“Restaurants and their customers have found themselves in a ‘new normal’. Given emerging technology, changing consumer behavior and dining preferences, and the extraordinary challenges of the past two years, it is unlikely that the industry will fully return to its pre-pandemic state,” Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group, told the National Restaurant Association. “As the speed of recovery varies across industry by segment, constant innovation and sustained flexibility of restaurateurs is creating a new future for the restaurant industry. There will still be plenty of opportunities for growth in 2022 and beyond. »

Click on here to download the 2022 State of the Restaurant Industry Report, sponsored by DoorDash and Paradox.

About the National Restaurant Association

Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading trade association for the restaurant industry, comprising 1 million food and beverage outlets and a workforce of 15.6 million employees. We represent the industry in Washington, DC and advocate on its behalf. We sponsor the largest trade show in the industry (National Restaurant Association Show); leading food safety training and certification program (ServSafe); unique high school career development program (ProStart from NRAEF). For more information, visit and find us on Twitter @WeRRestaurants, Facebook and Youtube.

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Cecil N. Messick