Bonji Foods Aficionado Smart Brief: Volume 51
Restaurants have been put through the toughest of conditions since the pandemic hit its peak in early 2020. As we head into 2023, restaurants still haven't seen the best of times. However, I've come today with some positive notes on the restaurant industry. It may not bring us back to complete recovery if there is such a thing, but with so much negative news, we think any glimmer of hope is nice to see.
A Glimpse of Hope For The Restaurant Industry 1. Black Friday Exceeds Expectations (What That Means For Restaurants) This Black Friday has told us a lot about consumer optimism heading into the new year. Of course, it seems like every Black Friday is a wild frenzy of spending. Yet, we generally know what to expect from consumers. This year, expectations were shattered all around, specifically for restaurant spending. The biggest increase in any consumer spending category for Thanksgiving weekend was at restaurants! The 23.3% increase from last year shows that people are willing to spend at restaurants, even with the current state of inflation and economic worries. In addition, Thanksgiving through Christmas holds the majority of gift card purchases for the restaurant industry. Now, while this should feel exciting, this massive weekend may be a touch misleading. After all, consumer confidence has continued to dwindle for the fourth straight month and there are growing predictions of a recession. With all that being said, it seems consumers are dipping into the $1.7 trillion that has been saved during the pandemic times, according to The Wall Street Journal.
2. Restaurant Hiring Accelerated in November In November alone, the restaurant industry added around 62,000 jobs - which accounts for roughly 1 in every 4 positions created nationwide. That number essentially doubled from the month of October, showing that restaurants are feeling better about hiring employees. Although this is a great sign for the industry's confidence moving forward, we are still short of pre-pandemic jobs. Currently, there are about 11.9 million people employed by eating and drinking establishments, around 400,000 short of February 2020. We aren't quite there yet, but the signs are pointing in a positive direction. Furthermore, the national unemployment rate is at a low 3.7%, regardless of large corporations going through periods of layoffs. Nonetheless, with people employed outside the industry, there will be more disposable income to be used at restaurants, and those hiring in the industry are showing the rapid growth that restaurants are hoping to see.
3. How Food-Tech Leaders Plan To Help The food-tech world was skyrocketing as the pandemic hit, offering restaurants new ways to deliver & make food while offering customers new ways to order and pay. However, this year has presented challenges such as volatile pricing across the board, inflation, and labor shortages. There are now leaders in the food-tech world stepping up and trying to offer more restaurant-friendly technology that will lend a helping hand. For instance, instead of blanket price increases on deliveries, new machine learning tech is being implemented to adjust pricing based on supply and demand, similar to Uber's price surges. Overall, keep an eye out for new technology coming to the industry that can help fight against rising costs and a troubling economy.