100,000 Restaurants Have Closed Since the Start of Pandemic in March: Survey

Since the onset of COVID-19 six months ago, nearly 1 in 6 restaurants have closed their doors.

According to a survey by the National Restaurant Association, an astonishing 100,000 eateries have shuttered either permanently or for a long-term basis since the coronavirus pandemic began in March, reported Today. The closures also represent the loss of jobs for nearly 3 million people.

Many restaurants were affected early due to state and local lockdowns and quickly transitioned to takeout and delivery only. As stay-at-home orders loosened, some were able to reopen for outdoor dining and limited-capacity indoor dining. But even after reopening, closures ensued for those that saw employees test positive for coronavirus.

The survey asked restaurant operators about the impact of the pandemic on their business over the last six months and found that “most restaurants are still struggling to survive and don’t expect their position to improve over the next six months.”

“For an industry built on service and hospitality, the last six months have challenged the core understanding of our business,” said Tom Bené, President & CEO of the National Restaurant Association.

“Our survival for this comes down to the creativity and entrepreneurship of owners, operators, and employees. Across the board, from independent owners to multi-unit franchise operators, restaurants are losing money every month, and they continue to struggle to serve their communities and support their employees.”

Overall, restaurants reported sales were down an average of 34%, while costs of running their businesses had increased for 60% of owners.

Restaurants also noted staffing levels were only at 71% compared to prior to the pandemic.

Per the study, the foodservice industry is expected to lose $240 billion by the end of the year. In addition, 40% of restaurant owners don’t think they will be able to continue to stay open six months from now without additional federal relief aid.

While another stimulus package has yet to be approved, the National Restaurant Association recently sent a letter to Congress asking them to act quickly to pass small business programs in stand-alone bills.

“The foodservice industry was the nation’s second largest private sector employer and pumped more than $2 trillion into the economy right up until our sudden shutdown,” said Sean Kennedy, executive vice president of Public Affairs for the National Restaurant Association. “Making an investment in an industry that consumers love and that powers the economy is a good business and economic move for Congress as they search for the biggest bang for their recovery buck.”

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