The same reluctance of customers to part with their money that has led to many retailers struggling through back-to-school and dreading the holiday season has put the fast-food industry back on a solid footing. According to a report from research firm Packaged Facts, quick service and snack and beverage restaurant sales are now on course for moderate growth.
The report estimated that limited-service restaurant sales will reach $188.1 billion this year, up 4.9 percent over 2012, with sales at snack and beverage stores expected to rise 4.6 percent to $29.1 billion.
Those improvements were attributed to the general economic improvement, as well as small improvements in same-store sales, re-imaging initiatives, menu innovation and experimentation with limited time offers. Apparently while others have been bemoaning their missing customers, the fast food industry has cranked up the creative dial.
"In an environment where stealing share is key to growth, menu innovation and keeping up with broader nutritional trends remain essential," said Packaged Facts research director David Sprinkle.
For all that creative thinking, though, it's price that still drives decision-making for most customers. When surveyed, 68 percent of consumers said low price influenced their decision to go to a fast food restaurant, while 24 percent said it was the most important factor.
The findings also reveal that, while macroeconomic improvements have certainly helped ease consumer thriftiness, not all demographics have been equally effected. Households earning under $50,000 annually, African-Americans and 19- to 24-year-olds have not benefited as equally from the economic upturn.
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