Washington Restaurant Market Watch: Gallup poll ranks restaurants as second most popular industry

Washington Restaurant Market Watch: Gallup poll ranks restaurants as second most popular industry https://wahospitality.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/youndrestaurateur388-388x198.jpg

By Paul Schlienz

People love restaurants.

After all, restaurants are important parts of every community. They are gathering places and where we often go to celebrate important events in our lives.

And this love for restaurants really showed up on a recent Gallup poll, where the polling firm asked Americans to rate 25 major U.S. business sectors on which were the most and least popular.

Not entirely surprisingly, in our tech gadget crazy age, computers came in at No. 1 in the survey. Restaurants, however, scored an impressive No. 2 among all industry sectors when it came to consumer popularity, with a rating of +50. And Americans really are putting their money where their mouths are: In 2014, restaurant sales jumped almost 4 percent to $709.2 billion, according to statistics from the National Restaurant Association. This translates into nearly $2 billion in sales each day. Impressive, any way you look at it.

What’s more, the entire foodservice and food production industry scored big in this survey. Groceries and farming/agriculture came in at Nos. 4 and 5, respectively, with respective ratings of +39 and +38.  Obviously, Americans are wild about food.

Gallup’s results come from telephone interviews conducted August 5-9, asking respondents if they positive or negative views of each business sector. Gallup then subtracted the percentage of negative views from the percentage of positive views, with a margin of error of plus or minus 6 percentage points in order to calculate its final scores.

In addition to restaurants’ traditional role as gathering places and important parts of the community, there are more reasons than ever before for the impressive popularity of eateries. A new Millennial generation views restaurants as an essential part of life – in contrast to Gen Xers or Baby Boomers, Millennials are more likely to view restaurants as an essential part of life, often eschewing time-consuming food preparation at home in favor of eating out.

Additionally, there is the rise of foodie culture. Think of the popularity of Anthony Bourdain and all of the cooking shows on TV. People are getting more serious about food than ever before, and this is to the great benefit of restaurants. Consumers increasingly want culinary variety and adventure, which they are much more likely to find at a restaurant than through home cooking. Food is becoming the new fashion – “what we eat“ have become a form of self-expression much like a fabulous pair of Christian Louboutins” – according to Martha Stewart, and Martha Stewart, a professional cook, cookbook author and teacher, is someone who should know.

Ultimately, however, no matter how you cut it, restaurants are about people. People who go to restaurants, no matter how exotic their taste in food may be, ultimately crave the human contact and hospitality that a really good restaurant can provide. When they receive that hospitality, there’s a good chance you’ll have a repeat customer.

If anything, Gallup’s results strongly suggest that there are plenty of happy repeat customers out there.

Good job, restaurant operators!