by David Klemt

75% of American Restaurant Operators Expect Decreased Sales Through January

by David Klemt

The fifth National Restaurant Association COVID-19 Restaurant Impact Survey results have been released.

Unsurprisingly and unfortunately, the news is not good.

For their fifth installment, the NRA surveyed 6,000 restaurant operators and 250 supply chain businesses between November 17 and 30. Full-service and limited-service restaurant operators, independent and chain, reported their sales had slipped in October.

Only 12 percent of restaurant operators reported seeing sales growth. In comparison, 79 percent said sales were down.

Per the NRA survey, one reason for the decline in sales is outdoor dining season coming to a close. In New York City, per Governor Andrew Cuomo’s order banning indoor dining, outdoor dining is the only option beyond delivery and takeout. However, the weather is less than attractive for outdoor diners.

Costs are disproportionate to sales for most operators. Nearly 60 percent of survey participants reported increased labor costs when compared to the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in the United States.

Profit margins, historically thin even at the best of times, were reported by 86 percent of operators who partook in the survey to also be lower than the they were prior to the pandemic.

The NRA’s predicted outcome for the industry is that without targeted and significant federal relief specifically for restaurants and bars, more temporary and permanent closures are coming, as are further losses of jobs.

According to an estimate from the NRA, more than 110,000 restaurants and bars had closed by December 1. On average, these establishments employed 32 people, and 17 percent of the closed businesses employed a minimum of 50 people.

Close to 40 percent of survey participants indicated they were considering closing their restaurants or bars temporarily and waiting out the pandemic. That means layoffs that could affect dozens of employees per establishment. Almost 60 percent of survey participants expect a reduction in their workforces over the coming three months.

Sales are expected to lag through the start of next year. The majority of operators surveyed, 75 percent, expect sales to fall even further from their already lower levels through the start of next year.

If that logical assumption becomes reality, slowed sales may trigger a domino effect: reduced traffic, plummeting sales, and increased operational costs leading to layoffs, temporary closures, and ultimately permanent closures.

Restaurants and bars require targeted relief for the industry to survive. If that help doesn’t come soon, if the RESTAURANTS Act or similar legislation isn’t signed into law, the country will lose millions of jobs permanently. The economy will be dealt a lethal blow, losing out on tens of billions of dollars.

Now is not the time to back off the pressure being put on Congress and Senate to pass the RESTAURANTS Act. Click here to tell them time is up—they must return to Washington in January to save our restaurants and bars.

Image: Enrico Hänel from Pexels