| LOS ANGELES
LOS ANGELES Jan 15 U.S. restaurant industry
sales are projected to exceed $683 billion in 2014, an increase
of 3.6 percent from last year, according to a forecast released
late on Wednesday by the National Restaurant Association.
The projected rise would mark an improvement from the
recession-battered years of 2008 and 2009, but it would lag the
industry's boom years in the 1970s - when double-digit annual
percentage sales growth rates were not uncommon.
Menu price inflation - resulting from operators' efforts to
offset higher costs for everything from beef to labor - are
expected to account for 2.4 percent of the sales growth in 2014,
Hudson Riehle, the NRA's senior vice president of research and
knowledge, told Reuters in an interview.
Higher food and labor costs are expected to pressure profits
again this year. Costs for popular items like beef are trending
higher and operators are also grappling with minimum wage
increases and costs related to implementing the new U.S.
The restaurant industry will again be the nation's
second-largest private employer with a workforce of 13.5
million, or about 10 percent of the U.S. total, according to the