Interesting Restaurant Industry Statistics for 2018

 In Restaurant Tips

Even with national upheavals and uncertainty about the future, the restaurant industry appears to be doing very well. Restaurant industry statistics show that if there’s anything Americans don’t stop buying, even in difficult times, it’s good food.

Interesting Restaurant Industry Statistics for 20187

Dining out is a strong traditional part of the American budget, and an integral part of human civilization, not just because it fulfills this basic need to stay fed, but because it provides a respite from the daily routine, an experience. It provides a place to form new relationships, spark a romance, talk out ideas, be entertained, or sit quietly in that “third space” with a cup of coffee or tea—or kombucha.

61% of adults, in fact, would rather purchase an experience than a product. That’s just a snippet of 2018’s restaurant industry statistics. And it’s useful.

Because, for example, if you don’t know what a “third space” is, you need to. It’s that place workers like to flock to that’s not home and not the office. Restaurants often fill that role, and it’s increasing in popularity with the growth of the gig economy. Restaurants that are far from the coffee shop niche, like Asian noodle restaurants, pizzerias and Irish pubs now offer high-quality Wi-Fi and deal on small meals to meet the needs of a crowd looking for a bite (sometimes several) and a place to get work done.

Knowledge is power. Sometimes you just need a tip or two to help you get ahead of the curve, know what to look out for, and spot upcoming trends. To that end, here are more illuminating restaurant industry statistics for 2018. Enjoy!

Sales and buying habits

Annual sales are strong, just under $800 billion. Overall sales showed a nominal growth across the board, and 89% of restaurateurs are optimistic about their sales prospects. The biggest increases in sales are in the Mountain Region and Florida, while the smallest are in the West North Central and North Dakota.

Americans are spending more on eating out. In fact, they’re spending 48% of their total food budget on restaurants, as opposed to 25% in 1955. And while grocery purchases have lowered since 2015, restaurant purchases have increased. Good luck competing with cars, however! Americans spend more on transportation today than they do on food.

In terms of customer preferences, people rank great food and good service as their top reasons for choosing a dining experience. But great food makes it to #1.

Hiring and employment

2 million restaurant jobs will open up in the next 10 years. But here’s where the news gets more difficult. Will restaurants be able to fill them? Restaurant owners and managers, especially in the QSR sector, find staffing very challenging, with roughly 33% offering positions they find difficult to fill. This is happening concurrently with a rise in the number of people who achieve a college education and thus seek higher-paying jobs.

Operators also appear to have had a habit of lowering the number of hours for employees this year. And employees do complain about reduced hours and changing schedules.

In a sense, of course, this is the name of the game for food service, as it is for retail. In retail, it is often for the purpose of cutting costs and the desire to save money on employee benefit packages. The food service industry, however, needs to find a way to attract and take care of employees of various skill and education levels, and make it worth everyone’s time, in order to attract your best people and avoid being understaffed.

Costs, or employee satisfaction? This isn’t a paradox. Success in one area should feed success in the other. But there are inherent tensions, especially when the budget is tight. It seems this tension will only be increasing in the near future, and will require some creative innovation and planning.


This seems like a piece of information to really pay attention to: 52% of restaurateurs offer no safety training to new hires, and 43% no training manual. Couple this with the fact that the average tenure of a restaurant employee is less than two months, and it appears that a careful hiring and equipping process is neglected in the face of swift and frequent turnover.

Again, as above, success and employee satisfaction are mutually informing, but also in tension. It appears that restaurants are afraid to invest 100% in their staff and that their staff is not, in turn, investing much time in them. It can turn the other direction, but it will take the initiative, creative thinking, and creative relating of talented restaurateurs who are willing to go the extra mile to shift the status quo.


Restaurants are striking new ground every day in marketing and community engagement. Television advertising is down, but social media use is up, along with an additional dramatic increase in the use of metrics (70% since 2015) and in the use of marketing services (88% of restaurants use them). Restaurants remain strong in the community engagement and charity sector, with 66% using these historically successful methods as a way to connect with localities while marketing themselves.

It also might be helpful to know that customers tend to like using the restaurant website to order food more than using third-party sites, and 73% believe that technology can improve their guest experience. So keep those websites, review platforms, and apps in good shape!

One final statistic for you. Did you know that 95% of restaurateurs say that technology improves their operational efficiency? Original Review can give you dozens, even hundreds, of real customer reviews per day, updated and analyzed in real time. We’re the only review platform that does it, and we dovetail with bill pay. That’s real data and real efficiency. Sign up for a free demo!

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