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Trade Group Projects Record Restaurant Sales in '05

WASHINGTON - Food retailers, take heed: Restaurant industry sales are expected to reach a record $476 billion in 900,000 restaurant locations in 2005, according to the
National Restaurant Association's 2005 Restaurant Industry Forecast.

The projected annual sales would comprise a solid 4.9 percent increase over last year. On a typical day the industry will post average sales of $1.3 billion.

"American consumers will spend almost 47 percent of their food dollar in the restaurant community in 2005," said Steven C. Anderson, president and c.e.o. of the National
Restaurant Association, in a statement issued yesterday. "The restaurant industry will serve as a driving force in our nation's economy by providing jobs to 12.2 million employees, and continue providing a social oasis and convenience to communities nationwide as it posts its 14th consecutive year of real growth next year."

The NRA forecast predicts that the industry is on track to add 1.8 million new jobs during the next 10 years.

"The restaurant industry in the United States reaped the benefits of the robust economic growth in 2004," said Hudson Riehle, the NRA's s.v.p. of research and information
services. "Steady gains in indicators such as personal disposable income and jobs continue to bode well for restaurants in 2005, despite the anticipated challenges of higher energy and food costs."

Some of the key trends that the association predicts for 2005 include:

-- Greater use of technology and worker training as a means to boost productivity and efficiency.

-- Continued increased focus on healthy lifestyles and restaurants providing customers with balance, choice, and customization.

-- Increased upgrades and improvements in decor, with the help of new tax-depreciation rules.

-- The sophistication of Americans' palates and knowledge of food.

Among the major segments, sales at full-service restaurants are projected to reach $164.8 billion in 2005, an increase of 5.0 percent over 2004, for a real growth rate of 2.2 percent.

Limited-service or quick-service restaurants are projected to register sales of $134.2 billion in 2005, a gain of 4.7 percent over 2004.
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