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Report: Restaurant industry sales trend positive in 2011

Washington, D.C. -- A report released Tuesday by the National Restaurant Association said that restaurant industry sales are expected to reach a record $604 billion and post positive growth in 2011 after a three-year period of negative real sales growth.

The Association’s 2011  Restaurant Industry Forecast projects an industry sales increase of 3.6% over 2010 sales, which equals 1.1% in real (inflation-adjusted) terms.

The nation’s 960,000 restaurants will continue to be strong contributors to the recovery of the nation’s economy, according to the report, with industry sales representing 4% of the U.S. gross domestic product and employees comprising nearly 10% of the U.S. work force.

“As the national economy is slowly improving, the restaurant industry is climbing out of its most challenging period in decades to post positive real sales growth in 2011,” said Hudson Riehle, senior VP of the Research and Knowledge Group for the National Restaurant Association. “As in 2010, restaurant industry job growth is expected to outpace the national economy this year, emphasizing the importance of industry to the nation’s economy.”

Continuing the trend from last year, the quick-service restaurant segment is expected to post slightly stronger sales growth than the full-service segment. Quick-service restaurants are projected to post sales of $167.7 billion this year, a gain of 3.3% over 2010. Sales at full-service restaurants are projected to reach $194.6 billion in 2011, an increase of 3.1% over 2010.

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