Rhode Island’s projected 2.3 percent restaurant-sales growth for 2012 is among the worst in the country, besting only Vermont and West Virginia, at 2.2 percent each, and can be at least partially blamed on its slow population growth and high unemployment rate, according to National Restaurant Association research.
“Demographics truly become destiny,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of research at the restaurant association, during the Rhode Island Hospitality Association’s trend summit held at the R.I. Convention Center Sept. 26.
Riehle and Rachel Roginsky, principal of the Pinnacle Advisory Group, a national hospitality-industry consulting firm, spoke to local industry professionals about forecasts and trends in lodging, food service and tourism.
The state’s projected restaurant-sales growth, like projections for all other states, is tied, Riehle said, to its projected 2013 0.2 percent population growth, 0.8 percent projected employment-growth rate and 1 percent projected growth in disposable income.
Nationally, disposable personal income is expected to grow between 1.5 percent and 2 percent and employment between 1.5 percent and 2 percent.
Also, although the national average decline in household income was 8.1 percent, Rhode Island ranked among states with a 15 percent or greater decline. And an increase in personal savings as a percent of income nationwide signals a decline in discretionary spending.
An additional cause for concern is that although the restaurant industry ranks second only behind computing as industries United States residents have the most confidence in, the New England region has the least confidence. The region posted only a 30.9 consumer-confidence index compared to a 79.5 consumer-confidence index in the West South Central region, the best in the country.