Like many industries, at first, COVID-19 decimated restaurants. But new data is in, and thankfully the recovery is gradual but well underway. In early March, when the virus was new, and fear was in the air, sales unsurprisingly plummeted across categories.
The hardest-hit businesses were pubs, bars, and nightclubs. At their lowest point of COVID-19, sales dipped to 90% below the annual average. By August, this number has risen to a drop of 40% below the average.
The relative increase represents vital gains for an industry starved for improvements. Plus, the drop in eat-in customers was augmented by a rise in alternative options. For example, even at the beginning of the rise of COVID-19 in March, the creation of delivery-related positions rose by 50%.
Not All Eateries Were Affected the Same Way
COVID-19 hit all restaurants, but not in the same way. Overall, restaurant sales dropped by 79% at the peak of the pandemic in mid-March. By June, this number rose to 30% below average. As regions slowed the spread of the virus, sales figures improved.
Not all eateries were impacted equally. The least affected of all were juice bars, which dipped to 57% below annual sales averages in March. Since then, they have climbed to 6% above ordinary seasonal averages.
Adapting Has Been Key
Throughout the pandemic, society correctly prioritized our collective health. The public has made major sacrifices by spending as much time at home as possible, leaving only to buy weekly or bi-weekly groceries.
This is the transformative new context in which restaurants had to operate. Even in areas where COVID-19 numbers were low and restaurants could physically re-open, they had to cut seating by 50%.The skills needed to work in a restaurant have always demanded quick thinking and flexibility, but never more than now.
Adapting to the “new normal” has been key. The key to combatting the dramatically reduced number of eat-in customers has been finding new channels, like takeout and delivery. Indeed, this explains the 40% increase in delivery-related shifts that has taken place since March.
Once restaurants found a safe and workable way to get people the food they desperately wanted, sales began to rise. With politicians urging people to support local restaurants to boost the economy, ordering food has become a way for people to satisfytheir hunger andconscience.
Starting Things Up Again
As restaurants begin to re-open and re-hire, they need to run their operations more efficiently than ever. Whether it’s software that reduces labor costs by producing better schedules in less time or finding a new way to meet your customers’ changing needs, being resourceful has never been more important.
Medical experts are keeping a watchful eye on the number of new COVID-19 cases, and by no means is the virus over. But seeing restaurants around the continent begin to bounce back is a sign that the pandemic is more contained, which can only be good news.