The severe impact of Covid-19 on the restaurant industry has resulted in the loss of millions of jobs across the US and billions of dollars in revenue
Eight million restaurant employees have lost their jobs or been furloughed in the US due to the coronavirus crisis, according to a survey from the National Restaurant Association (NRA).
This is equivalent to two in every three restaurant jobs, explains The Restaurant Industry Impact Survey, published on April 20. What’s more 60% of restaurant owners say that existing federal relief programs will not enable them to keep their employees on payroll during the downturn.
The findings of the survey, which covered 6,500 restaurants nationwide, have prompted the NRA to appeal once again to US Congress to provide targeted relief for the restaurant industry – one that it argues is larger than airlines, railroads, ground transportation and spectator sports combined.
The NRA estimates the foodservice industry lost $30 billion in revenue in March, is on track to lose $50 billion in April, and is forecasting losses of $240 billion by the end of the year.
Of the 40% of restaurants that have closed their doors, it expects some will never recover.
“These losses are just astonishing to me,” said Wade Koehler CAE, executive director of FCSI The Americas. “While I wish they were wrong, they are most likely understated when you include every small-town restaurant or bar that serves food within its communities.”
In its open to letter to Congress, the NRA has put forward proposals for a new ‘Blueprint for Recovery’, asking for a focused solution on behalf of an industry that is a vital part of every community.
“The restaurant industry has been the hardest hit by the coronavirus mandates – suffering more sales and job losses than any other industry in the country. As past recoveries have proven, we will be one of the slowest to bounce back,” said executive vice president of public affairs, Sean Kennedy.
He acknowledges that initiatives like the Paycheck Protection Program offer tremendous potential, but outlined the unique challenges faced by the industry that mean a specific restaurant relief and recovery program is desperately needed.
Koehler agrees, saying: “The relief is so important for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the amount of people employed by the restaurant industry that have their own bills to pay and secondly, when we can get back to dining out, we need more than a few extremely large chain restaurants in which to dine and meet up with our friends and colleagues.”
The NRA has suggested a Temporary Emergency Restaurant and Foodservice Industry Recovery Fund of $240 billion, offering grants to:
- support ongoing operating expenses and debt obligations from government-mandated closures;
- rehire and retrain our workforce; and
- provide a lifeline to reopen and readjust to a new era of increased distancing and heightened health and safety standards.
“This will provide much-needed assistance to a critical industry that employs a very large segment of the nation’s workforce and that has suffered disproportionately from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the NRA.
As for consultants, this may also prove to be a very challenging period. But there are ways in which they can support the industry as it adapts and prepares to reopen.
“For some consultants, it will mean tighter finances due to losing their restaurant clients either permanently or temporarily. For other consultants it could mean opportunity to assist clients on how to run more efficiently when they open back up to full operations,” said Koehler.
“For the manufacturer members, it represents two options as well. More restaurants will put off upgrading their equipment due to cash flow and some facilities may decide to invest in their larger operations to renovate or build new while the specific industries are either shut down or very slow.”
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