National Restaurant Association Releases 2021 Mid-Year Update on State of Restaurant Industry

Positive trends improve industry outlook; uncertainty and loss of consumer confidence could impact long-term reconstruction. Image for illustrative purposes
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Texas Border Affairs

washington d.c. – The National Restaurant Association released a mid-year supplement to the 2021 State of the Restaurant Industry Report, which illustrates the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the restaurant industry. The report provides an updated overview of key indicators and trends influencing the industry recovery in June/July 2021, including the current state of the economy, workforce, and food and beverage sales. drinks.

Key findings include:

  • Food and beverage sales in the restaurant and foodservice industry are expected to total $789 billion in 2021, up 19.7% from 2020.
  • Despite a steady trend of job creation in the first half of the year, restaurants and drinking places still have nearly one million jobs, or 8%, below pre-employment levels. the pandemic, and the restaurant and accommodation sector is showing one of the highest levels of job vacancies. job postings from any industry.
  • As of June 2021, 39 states and the District of Columbia have reopened indoor dining capacity to 100%; 11 states and Puerto Rico are open at varying capacities ranging from 50% to 80%.
  • Six out of 10 adults have changed their use of the restaurant due to the increase in the delta variant.

“Faced with one of the most devastating and disruptive events of our lifetime, the restaurant industry has made significant strides towards rebuilding in the first half of 2021,” said Tom Bené, President and Chief director of the National Restaurant Association. “Consumer expectations of foodservice have changed, and the industry is constantly adapting to not only meet, but exceed those expectations. Restaurant owners, along with their partners across the supply and distribution chain, remain focused on providing diners with a safe and enjoyable experience, amid rising food and labor costs. -work and challenges related to the pandemic. Given these factors, our outlook through the end of the year is one of cautious optimism. »

Labor and food costs remain key challenges

July marked the seventh consecutive month of workforce growth, translating into a net increase of 1.3 million jobs in the first half of 2021. Despite these increases, food and beverage outlets remain close to 1 million jobs, down 8% from pre-pandemic employment levels. Operators also continue to face higher input costs, with wholesale food prices rising at their fastest pace in seven years.

  • 75% of restaurant owners said recruiting employees was their top challenge in June 2021 – the highest level ever.
  • The full-service segment lost 626,000 jobs, 11% below pre-pandemic employment levels; the limited-service segment lost 175,000 jobs or 4% over the same period.
  • Menu prices have increased by almost 4% until June 2021.

Technology, outdoor dining and alcohol to go are here to stay

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The pandemic has catalyzed many changes in the restaurant industry, including rapid consumer adoption of technology for online ordering, electronic payment and order picking. Consumers want to see restaurants continue to incorporate technology and want to continue eating outdoors. In 31 jurisdictions, thanks to approved legislation, consumers will be able to continue to order alcoholic beverages with their takeout.

  • 52% of adults would like to see restaurants incorporate more technology to make ordering and paying easier.
  • 84% of adults say they are in favor of restaurants setting up tables on sidewalks, parking lots or streets permanently.
  • A majority of adults in states that allow alcoholic beverages with take-out and delivery orders would like this to continue permanently.

The Delta Threat

In the first half of 2021, industry trends were positive, but there is still a long way to go. A National Restaurant Association survey, conducted August 13-15, found that the delta variant of COVID-19 threatens to reverse gains made in the first six months of the year.

  • 6 in 10 adults have changed their use of the restaurant due to the increase in the delta variant.
  • 19% of adults say they have completely stopped going out to restaurants.
  • 37% of adults said they ordered delivery or takeout instead of dining at a restaurant.
  • 32% of adults said if they had to wear a mask and/or show proof of vaccination to dine indoors again, they would be less likely to dine in a restaurant.

“First half trends are promising, but many uncertainties remain around the delta variant, consumer confidence and ongoing workforce challenges,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of research for the National Restaurant Association. “We expect pent-up demand from restaurants to remain elevated in the coming months. However, in this state of flow, maintaining on-site restaurant availability with few capacity restrictions will be key to maintaining overall sales momentum, especially for full-service operators.

The National Restaurant Association will continue to monitor the effect of COVID-19 on the industry in the coming months and anticipates a full report on the state of the restaurant industry in early 2022.

Click here to download the 2021 Mid-Year State of the Restaurant Industry Update, sponsored by Sage Intacct.

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Cecil N. Messick