40 Restaurant Industry Statistics To Consider in the Wake of COVID-19

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Bianca Esmond

5 min read

May 15, 2020

40 Restaurant Industry Statistics To Consider in the Wake of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has left no industry untouched, with restaurants and hospitality businesses hit hardest as the economy struggles to cope with a once-in-a-lifetime challenge. When faced with enormous uncertainty, we look to data as a guide for not only thoughtful decision-making but also for how to anticipate what business will look like in a post-COVID world. Read on for important COVID-19-related stats restaurateurs should consider across different areas of their business.

Key Take-Aways:

Providing economic assistance for the restaurant industry is one of the most critical investments to bring our economy back
COVID-19 has acted as a catalyst in the growth of digital ordering and payment platforms, and consumers will expect technology moving forward as a way to ensure dining safety and convenience
The digital world has revolutionized how consumers discover and choose dining options, and content is more important than ever. Keep your brand top of mind with immersive experiences designed for people at home or on the go
The pandemic has served as a reminder of the psychological benefits of gathering with friends and family — and the importance of restaurants as a gathering place for these moments and memories 
There is a growing momentum to support local restaurants. As we navigate new waters after months of social distancing, restaurants will play a central role in reconnecting communities as people return to celebrate everyday life over meals 

Hospitality Industry Labor Statistics

There are a total of 33.5 million people who have lost jobs since March 2020 — accounting for an unemployment rate of 14.7% (Yahoo! Finance)
Two out of three restaurant employees have lost their jobs (National Restaurant Association)
Restaurants, on average, laid off 91% of their hourly workforce and 70% of salaried employees due to COVID-19 related closures (James Beard Foundation)
50 million jobs were at risk worldwide in the travel and tourism sector, which accounts for 10% of the global GDP (World Travel & Tourism Council)
Food preparation and service is the second most common occupation in the United States. Waiting tables is the eighth most common (World Travel & Tourism Council)

Restaurant Industry Financial Statistics

The restaurant industry expects to lose up to $240 billion by the end of 2020 (National Restaurant Association)
Over 71% of restaurants had a profit margin under 10% in 2019 (Independent Restaurant Coalition)
61% of operators say existing federal relief won’t prevent more restaurant layoffs (National Restaurant Association)
Restaurant owners said their biggest immediate cash challenges are: Rent (39%), Payroll (34%), Taxes (9%) (James Beard Foundation)
Nearly 60% of restaurants made $1.5 million or less in revenue the last fiscal year, needing $100,000 over the next quarter to remain viable for a reopening (James Beard Foundation)
56% of restaurants have at least $50,000 in new debt as a result of COVID-19 (Save Restaurants)
44% of the initial $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program loans went to only 2% of recipients (Eater)
92% of restaurant traffic is now off-premise (Fast Casual)
51% of consumers have downloaded at least one new app to purchase food and essentials since COVID-19 (Bluedot)
The average online ordering check size is 23% larger than in-store checks (Toast)
33% of consumers say they’re getting more takeout than before the pandemic (Restaurant Business)
50% of Gen Z consumers are willing to try out a new restaurant if curbside is an option (Bluedot)
Third-party delivery platforms can make meals cost up to 91% more for customers (New York Times)
20% of diners are willing to wait beyond 40 minutes for food delivery (Restaurant Dive)
36% of consumers want restaurants to concentrate on producing less packaging waste (e.g., straws, plastic utensils, etc.) (Facebook)
1 in 5 restaurant owners in cities affected by mandatory restaurant closures are certain that delivery/takeout can sustain business until normal operations resume (James Beard Foundation)
During this health crisis, grocery delivery apps are in demand more than ever, seeing daily downloads surge by up to 218% for stores like Instacart, Walmart Grocery and Shipt (Techcrunch)

Reopening Statistics

The biggest challenges restaurant owners believe they are facing in reopening are: Slow return of customers (41%), Cash to pay vendors (35%), Rehiring staff (16%), Retraining staff (3%), Health Inspections (2%) (James Beard Foundation)
55% of all consumers surveyed expect to see more hand sanitizer dispensers to make them feel ‘safe and comfortable’ inside restaurants (Restaurant Business)
When it comes to post-COVID on-premise dining, 38% of people are most concerned with touching shared objects (countertops, napkin dispensers, chairs, cash), 28% with being near other people, 15% with staff preparing or handling food, 9% with being served from large containers, and 7% with interacting with restaurant staff (Datassential)
Only 62% of consumers believe that cooking food kills coronavirus, however, the CDC has confirmed that coronavirus can NOT be spread through food (Datassential) (Center for Disease Control and Prevention)
76% of people have no problem with restaurants offering a reduced menu upon reopening (Datassential)
20% of people surveyed said they would not return to normal activities until a vaccine is approved (Restaurant Business)
41% of consumers are most looking forward to feelings of relaxation when they return to restaurants, giving operators the chance to refocus their service on eliciting this experience by leveraging technology where possible (Datassential)

Social Engagement & Technology Statistics 

77% of the US population is already active on social media today, with 187.7 million Americans using smartphones (Statista)
63% of diners say discounts and promotions play an important role when considering restaurant ordering options and 66% of diners say “value” is a top factor when deciding where to eat (Facebook)
86% of Millennials try a new restaurant after seeing food-related content online (Facebook)
47% of consumers would prefer to have an e-gift card over a traditional gift (First Data)
53% of consumers are downloading and using more apps to reduce interaction and contact with on-site staff (Bluedot)
73% of diners say that their experience is improved by restaurant technology (Deputy)
37% of restaurant operators think that customer ordering is the most important area for technological development (Deputy)
95% of restaurant owners agree that technology improved business efficiency (SevenRooms)
70% of people — 82% of Millennials — look online to plan their next meal (Facebook)
One-in-ten small businesses have developed new products as a way to engage with new customers during COVID-19 (Harris Poll)
Nearly 32% of respondents fear robots will take their jobs, as robot chefs and baristas are increasingly used in the food industry for both sanitary and efficiency purposes (Sykes)

Additional resources to stay informed of ongoing COVID-19 updates specific to the restaurant industry.

National Restaurant Association (NRA) – Coronavirus Information and Resources
James Beard Foundation (JBF) – Open For Good
Restaurant Technology Network – COVID-19 Restaurant Industry Resources


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