Sales declines in January followed a 0.7 percent slide in December, noted Bruce Grindy, chief economist for the NRA. Sub-zero temperatures, snow and ice storms dragged on customer traffic in December in January. Grocery stores were the main beneficiaries of the decline in restaurant traffic. Sales rose 1.7 percent and 0.4 percent in December and January, respectively.
However, the outlook for the restaurant industry remains positive. Restaurant industry sales are expected to exceed $683 billion in 2014, up 3.6 percent compared to a year ago, according to theNRA's 2014 Restaurant Industry Forecast.