US restaurant sales are expected to grow by 5% during 2007 to a record $537bn (£273.2bn), according to the National Restaurant Association (NRA). The NRA said that 2007 will be the 16th consecutive year of real growth for the industry, a result of capturing an increasing portion of the food dollar. The association forecast that Americans will spend 47.9% of their food budget in the nation’s foodservice outlets, which are expected to grow to 935,000 next year. Sales at full-service restaurants are expected to reach $181.6bn in 2007, an increase of 5.1% on 2006 figures. The rise in sales will be driven by continued increases in consumers’ disposable income. The NRA predicted that quick-service restaurant sales will be driven by consumers’ increasing demands for convenience and value next year. Highest restaurant-sales volume is expected in California, with sales expected to reach $54.2bn. Hudson Riehle, senior vice-president of research and information services at the NRA, said: “We are looking at another solid year for restaurant industry growth in 2007, boosted by a stable economy, increasing personal disposable income and Americans’ hunger for the flavours, experiences and convenience that restaurants provide.”