When the National Restaurant Association (NRA) released its 2007 Restaurant Industry Forecast this past December, one thing was clear: Nevada is the place to be.
At a hearty 8.1 percent, the Silver State is projected to lead the nation in restaurant sales growth this year, besting the national average by nearly three points. It is also set to post strong gains in income, payroll, and population growth—three key economic indicators for the industry.
“The stars really are aligned for the state,” says Hudson Riehle, senior vice president for research at the NRA. “When you look at all those underlying factors, it truly is a recipe for growth.”
Powered by the People
One of the main ingredients in that recipe is population.
“Demographics truly are destiny in the restaurant industry,” Riehle says, and if his words hold true, the future certainly looks bright for Nevada. With a 2.6-percent increase over 2006, the state is projected to lead the country in population growth, according to the NRA’s predictions. That number is nearly triple the national average.
And this surge in population is nothing new. The number of people in Nevada has actually been increasing steadily for almost two decades now.
“For 19 of the past 20 years, Nevada has lead the nation in population growth,” says Keith Schwer, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
But despite these statistics, the state still ranks 35th in the union in terms of population, with fewer than two million residents. Though it’s important to consider that those people are highly concentrated in two areas of the state—the southerly Las Vegas Valley, which includes the cities of Las Vegas and Henderson, and Truckee Meadows, a valley in the west that houses Reno and Sparks—Nevada still looks like a small market when compared with a population powerhouse like Southern California.