budget-minded consumers continue to look for ways to eat for less last year.
Although many restaurant segments lost a significant portion of their
business in 2009, pizzerias showed no real losses as American consumers
spent nearly $38 billion on pizza. The pizzeria sector remained flat in the
weak economy and continued to attracted new customers looking for good value

A full half of the business was shared by the leading pizza chain franchises
in the segment that contains about 64,000 pizzerias today. The combined
pizza restaurant industry spent over $545 million on advertising in 2009,
and most of that cash came from the big chains with intensely competitive
marketing promotions touting new recipes and new deals.

The competition resulted in some great deals for consumers as the leading
franchises continued to one-up each other's latest offerings. Little
Caesar's introduced one supreme pizza and one pepperoni pizza for $9.99,
while Domino's shops received a 12% boost in same-store sales after
reinventing its recipe. Pizza Hut offered $10 pizzas with everything on them
and even Papa Murphy's got in the act with a $6.99 large take-n-bake pizza.

The poor economy also boosted sales at independent pizzerias, and although
many reacted to their chain competitors' marketing campaigns in creative
ways like coupons and discounts, successful independents also focused on
quality and not just pricing. The recession is not yet over by any means and
the outlook for the coming year is probably more of the same. The pizza
business will likely remain fairly stable, yet still very competitive.