The National Restaurant Association (NRA) has appealed to Congress for help addressing the “economic free fall” of restaurants in the U.S. The NRA sent a letter to Congressional leadership, sharing new survey findings that illustrate continued business deterioration across the restaurant industry. The letter supports the moderate compromise proposal as a “down payment” toward a larger relief package in early 2021.
“More than 500,000 restaurants of every business type – franchise, chain, and independent – are in an economic free fall,” Sean Kennedy, EVP of public affairs, states in the letter. “And for every month that passes without a solution from Congress, thousands more restaurants will close their doors for good.”
The NRA Research Group conducted the survey of 6,000 restaurant operators and 250 supply chain businesses Nov. 17-30, 2020, and the findings were stark:
- 87% of full-service restaurants (independent, chain, and franchise) report an average 36% drop in sales revenue. For an industry with an average profit margin of 5% to 6%, this is unsustainable, and 83% of full-service operators expect sales to be even worse over the next three months.
- Although sales are significantly lower for most independent and franchise owners, their costs have not fallen by a proportional level. Indeed, 59% of operators say their total labor costs (as a percentage of sales) are higher than they were pre-pandemic.
- The future remains bleak. For at least the next three months, 58% of chain and independent full-service operators expect continued furloughs and layoffs.
The tide of restaurant closures and bankruptcies continues to rise, sweeping away jobs in some of the most venerated independent and chain restaurants:
- 17% of restaurants – more than 110,000 establishments – are closed permanently or long-term.
- The vast majority of permanently closed restaurants were well-established businesses, and fixtures in their communities. On average these restaurants had been in business for 16 years, and 16% had been open for at least 30 years.
- Only 48% of these former restaurant owners say it is likely they will remain in the industry in any form in the months or years ahead. Our nation is losing a generation of industry talent, knowledge, and entrepreneurial spirit.
“The restaurant industry cannot wait for relief any longer,” says Kennedy. “We appreciate the efforts of a group of moderate members of the House and Senate to advance a true compromise between the competing proposals from Democratic and Republican leaders. If this moderate plan represents a ‘down payment’ for a larger relief package in early 2021, it will provide restaurants with immediate relief to hold on through the most dangerous point in our business year.”
The association provides a plan for how a proposed second draw from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) could be strengthened to reflect the unique business model of the restaurant industry. The NRA also highlights other important measures that would support restaurants in the short-term.