A host of interesting restaurant statistics came to light just over a week ago at the United States Department of Agriculture Outlook Forum, where NRA Senior VP Hudson Riehle presented some enlightening data on consumer trends over the course of the pandemic. Drive-thru sales accounted for 42% of traffic in November 2021 up from 26% in February 2020, while on-premises dining suffered a 20% drop over the same period on total restaurant sales of just under $800 billion, an increase from the $659 billion of industry sales in the 2020 heart of the pandemic. Notwithstanding the ongoing recovery in the restaurant space, panelists predicted 2022 will be another transitional year with the labor shortage continuing to present the greatest challenge to the industry along with skyrocketing inflation rates and persistent supply chains issues. And new data from the University of Michigan monthly Survey of Consumers indicates that consumer sentiment has reached its lowest reading in a decade at 62.8, down 4.4 points from the January totals. High inflation coupled with the perception that Biden administration economic policies are not moving us in the right direction were the primary factors in driving down consumer confidence. The survey was conducted prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, so next month’s numbers will likely be worse in many areas.