The restaurant business would appear to have a lot of factors in its favor, according to a lay-of-the-land look at the industry by Jonathan Maze in trade publication Nation's Restaurant News. These include low gas prices, a growing economy, and rising consumer confidence.
Yet analysts project that restaurant traffic growth will remain "stagnant" in the years to come. How come? One reason is that millennials, many of whom came of age in the crucible of the recession, continue to eat at home. "They've gotten used to being at home," Bonnie Riggs, an industry analyst, told Maze. "A lot are cooking. They like it. Many say they love it."
Other factors include a shrinking middle class, rising take-out competition from convenience stores and groceries, and a shift from traditional chain restaurants toward healthy meals that are locally sourced.