Monday, June 14, 2021

Rant: How Many Restaurants Have Closed Due To the Pandemic?

We're well aware that the pandemic significantly impacted the restaurant industry. As the states start to lift pandemic restrictions, these restaurants can start to recover as more and more customers can dine-in rather than just obtain take-out and delivery. 

One question that comes to mind is: How many restaurants permanently closed due to the pandemic?

It's estimated that pre-pandemic, there were about a million or so restaurants nationwide. Normally, about 50,000 restaurants close each year, due to a myriad of reasons. Some of the latest data from the National Restaurant Association indicates that about 90,000 restaurants have closed permanently or long-term, which would be about 9% of all restaurants, and only 40,000 more than usual. 

In Massachusetts, it's been alleged by the MA Restaurant Association, since at least June 2020, that about 20% of local restaurants closed. However, no breakdown of those numbers, such as by city/town, have been provided, and the alleged numbers haven't changed or been adjusted in the past year. National numbers have certainly changed since last June, so it makes sense that local numbers would have changed as well. So, the MRA numbers may not be accurate as of time. 

During the pandemic, numerous new restaurants have also opened. A CBS article, from May 2021, discussed some recent statistics concerning new restaurants. For example, in the last three months of 2020, Yelp added 18,000 new spots to their platform. And according to the Census Bureau, in January and February 2021, there were about 50,000 applications for new food businesses. 

In the end, the pandemic has hurt the restaurant industry, in the number of closings, far less than the direct predictions from a year ago. Roughly, about an additional 4% of restaurants closed above the usual annual number of closings. For those closed restaurants, this was definitely a terrible occurrence, and should not be dismissed. However, if we just look at the overall industry, it has struggled but it could have been far worse.

More restaurants could still close, which is why restaurants need our support now more than ever. Even those restaurants who haven't closed, have often faced a significant loss of income. Some are clinging to existence, hoping that the lack of restrictions will save them. Just because the worst case scenarios didn't occur doesn't mean the impact hasn't been significant. 

We need to patronize restaurants now, as much as possible, to help them survive. We should also tip well. Every restaurant that must close adversely affects so many people, from the owners to the servers, from the suppliers to the customers. Fortunately, the pandemic wasn't as devastating to the restaurant industry as it could have been, but the industry definitely still needs our assistant and patronage. We have the opportunity to patronize our favorite restaurants, so we need to take that opportunity. 

No comments: