Further supporting Americans’ income, oil prices have declined about 50% since 2014, and spending on gas has dramatically decreased – AAA recently stated that gasoline prices are now at a 12-year low. The lower energy prices can also help businesses keep costs associated with transportation and operations down as well.
“Consequently, around $100 billion in disposable income has been freed up for spending in the consumer discretionary sector,” Cronan said. “With 9 in 10 consumers saying they enjoy going to restaurants, a portion of that newly freed discretionary income will likely go to eating out.”
Cronan also believes that low interest rates could help contribute to franchise openings – fast casual franchises finished with an 11% annual growth within the U.S. Moreover, the boom in fast casual diners is fulfilling an unmet need in the market by providing healthy choices in relaxed environment. Looking ahead, the U.S. is expected to generate $48.8 billion in new food service sales between 2015 and 2020.
Restaurants have also upped their game to capture their share of discretionary spending, increasing the number of touch points they have with consumers through new technologies, using technology as a marketing tool and decreasing big budget ads with more one-to-one promos through mobile applications.
ETF investors who have an optimistic outlook for the restaurant segment can get targeted exposure to the sector through the Restaurant ETF (NasdaqGM: BITE), which includes exposure to many eateries, with top components including Arcos Dorados Holdings (NYSE: ARCO) 3.0%, Dave & Busters (NasdaqGS: PLAY) 2.9%, El Pollo Loco (NasdaqGS: LOCO) 2.9% and Dominos Pizza (NYSE: DPZ) 2.6%.
Financial advisors who are interested in learning more about the consumer services industry can watch the webcast here on demand.