Global Industry Overview: Restaurants

Restaurants are involved in retail sale of prepared foods and beverages for on-site or immediate consumption, and include fast-food restaurants, diners, refreshment stands, and full-service restaurants. Caterers and institutional food service establishments are also included in this category.

Industry Snapshot

While most restaurants are single units, independently owned and operated, the majority of industry revenues are dominated by large chains such as McDonald's and Yum! Brands. McDonald's was the world's leading restaurant in terms of sales with US$22.7 billion in 2009. Yum! Brands, which owns KFC and Taco Bell, among other brands, was the world leader that year in number of restaurants at 37,080.

A difficult economic environment hurt the restaurant industry in 2009, particularly in the developed markets such as the United States. Writing in Nation's Restaurant News, Sarah Lockyer called 2009 "one of the worst years on record." High unemployment in the U.S. caused consumers to trim back expenses, which included eating at home more and eating out less. Full service restaurants were hit particularly hard. Technomic, a Chicago food consulting firm, expected 2010 to mark an improvement, but with significant challenges remaining as long as unemployment in the U.S. remained elevated.