57282979Total restaurant sales in Colorado are expected to rise in 2014, exceeding $9.8 billion by year’s end, according to a recent forecast by the National Restaurant Association.

The Association’s 2014 Restaurant Industry Forecast found that total restaurant sales in the state are expected to increase from $9.4 billion in 2013, a 4-percent rise, and will likely generate approximately $681 million in state and local sales tax.

The forecast also predicts that Colorado’s foodservice industry will increase employment from 237,900 in 2013 to around 250,000 this year.

“Data released by the National Restaurant Association shows that Colorado once again will have stronger sales and employment this year than last year – and outpace the national average in disposable income, employment, and population growth,” Peter Meersman, president and CEO of Colorado Restaurant Association, said in a news release Friday.

Data showed that disposable income is expected to advance 2.4 percent in Colorado in comparison to 1.5 percent nationally; total employment growth at 1.9 percent will surpass the national average of 1.5 percent; and population growth of 1.4 percent compared to 1.0 percent nationally.

“Those three things add up to more restaurant sales statewide. This is good news for restaurant operators, our 250,500 employees, and our 2 million-plus daily customers,” Meersman said in the release.

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“Despite the challenges of rising food costs, labor costs, and the economy, Colorado restaurateurs continue to be innovative and thrive. 2014 will be a good year in terms of sales growth and consumer demand for great food, service and community that Colorado restaurants provide.”