By the third quarter of 2021, the nation’s gross domestic product – which fell by 3.5 percent in 2020, the largest annual decline since World War II – could surpass pre-pandemic levels, the National Restaurant Association says.
If current trends continue, the projected 4.8 percent increase in the GDP during 2021 would be the strongest annual real GDP growth since 1999. Despite that optimistic outlook, the path to complete recovery still appears long, according to the association’s 2021 Economic Outlook. The nation lost more than 22 million jobs at the onset of the pandemic in March and April, wiping away the gains made over the previous decade. Since then, 12 million jobs have been restored and another 5.2 million jobs are expected to be created in 2021, but the association notes the gains would still put the economy below the pre-pandemic peak of February 2020. The job market is not expected to fully recover until 2022, the National Restaurant Association said.
The loss of disposable income is likely to continue impacting consumer spending and restaurant sales. However, the forecast assumes that more income-supporting stimulus payments are on the way, which could translate into a 2.8 percent increase over 2020’s income levels, acting as a catalyst for increase consumer spending in 2021.
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