Learn More About the Restaurant Industry and Economy for 2018

Ohio restaurateurs are hoping the cold, snowy and icy weather over the first three weeks of the year begins to ease. I’ve spoken with many restaurant operators recently and business has been good in January – when they're open and roads are passable.

Those of us who've been in the industry for years know that weather can negatively impact sales as customers stay home rather than eating out. Unlike many other industries and businesses that catch up on sales as weather improves – such as automobiles, appliances, services, clothing, etc. – once a restaurant loses a meal occasion, the revenue goes with it. Customers end up replacing a potential restaurant meal by eating at home. Perhaps the best opportunity for a restaurant during bad weather is delivery, if you offer it.

To learn more about what to expect for 2018, ORA members and foodservice professionals should attend our Mid-America Restaurant Expo on Jan. 28-29 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. Showtime is less than a week away, and I can’t wait for the two-day event. In addition to more than 300 exhibitors, our Pizza Pizzaz and Burger Battle competitions and chef Michael Symon, we’ve assembled a lineup of elite speakers who will provide insights that can help your business.

You won’t want to miss these topics at the Expo:


Two recent reports paint mixed signals about the restaurant industry and the economy. It’s worth reviewing these as you plan for 2018.

Black Box Intelligence Report
A positive fourth-quarter for sales surprised analysts as restaurants posted a gain for the first time in two years, according to Black Box Intelligence, which released fourth-quarter figures this month. The market research company says same-store sales growth for the fourth quarter was 0.4 percent, a 2.6 percentage point improvement from third quarter results. This is the first quarter of growth in the last two years. The signs of improvement that the restaurant industry began showing since the beginning of the quarter continued through December as same-store sales posted 0.3 percent growth for the month. These insights come from TDn2K™ data through The Restaurant Industry Snapshot™, based on weekly sales from more than 30,000 restaurant units, 170+ brands and represent over $68 billion dollars in annual revenue. Read more here.

University of Michigan Consumer Report
The University of Michigan consumer survey released on Jan. 19 says sentiment unexpectedly declined in January to a six-month low as American households viewed the economy less favorably. The decline in sentiment related to concerns about big-ticket goods and consumer worries about higher prices after a solid holiday-shopping season. Consumers expect less-attractive pricing due to inflation. Consumers do seem to be generally positive about the impact of tax reform, although the longer-term impact is uncertain. The report says new dining concepts are upending the way restaurants serve and deliver food. Most of the changes have been in response to the way Americans are choosing to access their meals and demanding higher quality ingredients at reasonable prices… without too long of a wait.

Read more here.