If the National Restaurant Assn. is right, eateries across the country will end this year with record high sales.
The trade group is expecting $632 billion in revenue for the industry – a 3.5% increase over 2011. The still-shaky economy, it seems, won’t be getting too much in the way.
Restaurants with table service will haul in an estimated $201 billion, while fast-food joints such as McDonald’s are expected to end up with $174 billion in revenue for the year. Food-service options at convenience stores and grocery stores are also expected to grow.
Employment at dining establishments will increase 2.3% -- recovering all the positions lost during the recession. The 12.9 million people working such jobs will make up about 10% of the nation’s entire workforce, according to the restaurant group.
Of course, the boom won’t happen without first encountering hurdles. Last year, wholesale food prices surged 8% -- the most in three decades. Eatery owners are expecting an additional 4% increase this year, which could translate into more expensive menu items for consumers.