March 31, 2016 - Consumer spending on restaurants has accelerated in recent years, thanks in part to strong growth in the job market, especially for millennials, and sustained lower gas prices, according to Visa Business and Economic Insights analysis and the Visa Retail Spending Monitor (RSM)1.
Since mid-2014, fast food and full-service restaurant sales have grown steadily–outpacing growth of overall retail sales and closely mirroring employment gains. Robust U.S. employment growth of 3-4 million net new jobs created in 2014 and 2015 closely paralleled an uptick in restaurant spending, which peaked at nearly 10 percent growth in early 2015.
The economy added an average of 200,000-300,000 jobs per month at that time, corresponding to growth above two percent year-over-year (YoY), the strongest since 2000. This helped to drive the unemployment rate down to below five percent by the end of 2015.
Restaurant spending highly correlated to job growth
(Year-over-year, three-month moving average)