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Restaurant Industry Will Grow, Outpace National Job Growth In 2013 Despite Sustained Challenges

Consumer TrendsConsumers' interest in technology continues unabated. Restaurant operators recognize that technology can enhance customer service and appeal to consumers, but they are not fully meeting consumer demand in this area yet.

At tableservice restaurants, more than half of consumers say they would use tableside electronic payment options and 44 percent would use a tableside ordering system. Nearly one-third would use mobile payment options, four in 10 would use tablet menus (such as iPads), and 50 percent would use a smartphone app for viewing menus, ordering or making reservations. Less than one in 10 tableservice restaurants currently offer these options, but 54% say they will invest more resources in customer-facing technology in 2013.

At quickservice restaurants, 44 percent of consumers say they would use self-order terminals, two in five would use smartphone apps to place orders or view menus, and more than one-quarter would use mobile payment options. Currently, less than 2 percent of quickservice restaurants offer these technologies, though 48 percent say they plan on investing more in customer-facing technology next year.

Also among the strongest consumer trends for 2013 are local sourcing and nutrition. More than seven out of 10 consumers say they are more likely to visit a restaurant that offers locally produced menu items, and more than six out of 10 said locally sourced menus are a key attribute for choosing a restaurant. Currently, a majority of tableservice restaurants offer locally sourced produce, meat or seafood, with availability being highest in the fine dining segment.

In addition, more than seven out of 10 consumers say they are trying to eat healthier at restaurants now than they did two years ago; women more so than men (75 percent vs. 66 percent). Similarly, about three-quarters of consumers say healthy menu options are an important factor when choosing a restaurant (80 percent of women vs. 71 percent of men).  Restaurants are responding to this increasing demand for nutritious options, as 86 percent of consumers say that restaurants are offering a wider variety now than two years ago.

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