Is there an economic turnaround taking place at a grassroots level? If I said there was, you’d probably dismiss me as an optimistic blogger. But if the New York Times said so, would you sit up and take notice?
It would irresponsible journalism on the part of the Grey Lady to declare the recent financial problems well and truly behind us, but certainly there are seeds of optimism in a recent profile of the American restaurant sector. And it’s franchises that are helping to lead the way.
Restaurants all over the country are beginning to see signs of a potential recovery after a dismal 2009. Sales at some restaurants have risen in the last few months, and the industry has hired thousands of additional workers.
“There’s no question about this,” said Harry Balzer, chief industry analyst at the NPD Group, a market research firm that tracks sales at 47 restaurant chains with a total of 103,000 outlets. “There’s a recovery going on.”
It’s clear from the story that a certain domino effect is shaping up. Last year was as bad as any a businessman will see. But now we’re seeing consumer confidence rise gradually, which means that more people are spending their hard-earned dollars at restaurants, which means that restauranteurs and franchisees need to employ more staff, which means that the state and federal government get more funds via employment taxes. It’s the roots of economic revival, more or less.
Again, no one is saying that the tough times are over. But these are clearly positive numbers. The story says restaurant sales are “10 percent higher in February and March than they were during the same months a year ago.” That is worth celebrating with a milkshake and fries.
If this is the sign of an economic revival, experts will again be pointing to franchising’s role in spurring the American economy back to life. Watch this space.