The recovery of the restaurant industry is in full swing

There was a time when Yelp data painted a dire picture. More than 32,000 restaurants have been closed as of August 31, including 19,590 listed as permanent.

More recently, a Datassential report pegged the figure at 10.2% of all US restaurants, or 79,438 locations closed from March 2020 to April 2021. A significant portion of the 778,807 establishments operating before COVID-19. Data from the National Restaurant Association in mid-May suggested that around 90,000 food and drink establishments remained closed, either permanently or long-term, reflecting a return to business for many temporarily closed units. That number jumped to 110,000 last December.

Lately, the headlines have swung in favor of a broad and dramatic recovery, triggered by demand outpacing supply, both from a labor and commodity perspective.

Nearly 65% ​​of adults in the United States have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Local restrictions and mask mandates continue to lift.

After three straight months of stronger sales than they were even in 2019, the restaurant industry’s recovery has held steady, Black Box Intelligence said. “Fortunately, this recovery has happened much faster than originally expected,” a spokesperson for the news platform told FSR.

The industry’s two-year mock-up sales in May hit more than 5.43%. Traffic only decreased by 5.27%, which is a pretty promising result considering the off-site gains. That suggests the dine-in recovery is coming back, while take-out and delivery gains are pushing sales above two-year levels, even despite limited capacity restrictions.

In the week ending May 30, according to Black Box, restaurant sales accelerated and the industry posted its 11th consecutive week of growth, the best results in six weeks.

Customer checks grew at an accelerated rate, both year-over-year and compared to 2019.

Off-premises sales growth remained “historically high” and relatively flat for limited-service brands. On the full-service side, off-premises sales were “extremely high,” but the growth rate has been steadily declining since mid-March (again, a reflection of dine-in. And really, a trend operators want see due to the drink accessory they dropped with the takeout/delivery surges).

To further illustrate why this might get even better, only five states and the District of Columbia saw negative same-store sales growth.

The best performing regions during the week were the Southeast, Southwest, Florida, and Highland Plains. The worst performers were the Midwest, New England, New York-New Jersey and California.

It’s easy to decipher what separates the packs. And if all goes according to plan, these latter markets should follow the others in terms of easing restrictions. Thus, sales will see a similar rocket from past levels.

For example, the Big Apple, where COVID restrictions just fell thanks to the fact that 70% of New Yorkers are now vaccinated.

“After 16 months of unprecedented devastation to restaurants, bars and clubs in New York City inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is monumental to join Governor Cuomo and New York leaders at 1 World Trade Center to formally lift restrictions. on businesses and begin a new phase of city recovery,” Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, said in a statement. “This is a critically important step forward and a ‘a remarkable day on a long road to recovery. Much more needs to be done to support tens of thousands of small businesses and struggling workers in New York City: the first of these efforts is for the federal government to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund and provide local businesses with the emergency help they need.

Yelp posted an update Tuesday on what it sees in terms of industry recovery, labor shortages and all.

Over 3.7 million diners were seated via Yelp in May 2021, an all-time high. The number of diners seated increased by 48% in May compared to May 2019. Yelp reported a similar increase in April.

As diners return, new restaurants and food businesses are opening at near pre-COVID levels. Nearly 6,600 new operations started in May 2021, a jump of 42% compared to May 2020 and a drop of only 21% compared to May 2019.

Yelp chart.

Additionally, Yelp data revealed a significant increase in food and restaurant business reopenings, with nearly 16,500 switches in April 2021 (the highest since April 2020) and leveling off with over 5,000 reopenings. in May 2021.

Yelp chart.

Wyoming and Idaho saw the biggest increases in diners seated, with both states up more than 1,000% in May 2021 compared to May 2019. Among other states, Yelp noticed big spikes, notably Nevada (513%), Delaware (422%), Alabama (386%). ), Mississippi (364%), Hawaii (335%) and Colorado (321%). Texas, one of the first states to lift mask mandates and open its doors to diners, saw diners seated via Yelp increase 143% from May 2019. Houston (213%), San Antonio (200 %), Dallas (126%), and Austin (85%) all saw notable increases in the number of customers returning to the restaurant.

Yelp chart.

While some major metros continue to lag in visitor numbers, other cities are bouncing back and performing better than they were before the pandemic. Cities that reported huge spikes between May 2021 and May 2019 include Honolulu (853%), Las Vegas (589%) and Denver (320%).

Yelp chart.

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Cecil N. Messick