In the restaurant industry, it's key to keep an eye on important trends that may shift shopping practices. It was recently found that pizza can help businesses remain king when facing tough competition, but bad weather may make the spring an uphill battle for many owners.

Pizza on the rise
According to CHD Expert, pizza represents one of the strongest aspects of the overall restaurant industry. The pizza market takes in more than $46 billion in retail sales every year, which comprises nearly 10 percent of the total foodservice market. Limited service restaurants represent 83 percent of the pizza market, while full service takes 17 percent of the pie.

The market for pizza is somewhat flooded, but there are plenty of opportunities for businesses to take advantage of this heavy demand. Independent shops have 56 percent of the market, while large chains represent another 30 percent. The increased interest in independent pizza is a big advantage for small businesses, as they have a new opportunity to expand their menus in a successful way. Approaching the market with a new concept may help competition overall.

Bad weather puts some in hole
This new method of competition may become more important for some businesses when put in context of the effects of the recent winter. Utica, New York's NBC WKTV station reports that the freezing cold, ice and snow from this past winter caused nearly one third of all adults in the United States to cancel some dinner plans. That translates directly to lost revenue from otherwise hungry crowds.

The weather reports from this past year wavered in severity, but few of them were good. In Utica, 25 days saw temperatures dip below zero, which made the city experience its coldest winter in almost ten years. That caused at least one restaurant to see weekday sales drop by as much as 15 percent.

As a result, there may be an increased need for businesses this year to fight back against these losses over time. As the spring brings a new thaw and the summer begins to approach, diners will be more likely to make trips outside. This will directly help businesses make up lost ground. Additional improvements that can help out their market include different promotions, new recipes and business expansion, though it's up to owners to determine the best purchases.

Hospitality and restaurant industry piece brought to you by Marlin Equipment Finance, leaders in food service equipment financing. Marlin is a nationwide provider of equipment financing solutions supporting equipment suppliers and manufacturers in the security, food services, healthcare, information technology, office technology and telecommunications sectors.