As the number of COVID-19 cases spikes in multiple states, full-service restaurant recovery has slowed, according to new data from Black Box Intelligence in a story by Nation’s Restaurant News.
Black Box, a Dallas, TX-based restaurant analytics firm, said as COVID-19 cases rise and new restrictions set in place (see California), dine-in sales at restaurants have decreased.
Part of the reason for that is the number of restaurants actually open for dine-in service. “After a steady climb since the end of April, the percentage of restaurants existing in the pre-COVID era that are now open for dine-in has plateaued around 87% for the last three weeks,”said Black Box.
This shouldn’t surprise too much. In the last few weeks, major chains like McDonald’s have halted their reopening plans for dining rooms and some states have either reduced capacity or ordered in-house service to stop altogether.
Also not surprising: off-premises sales are increasing for quick-service and fast-casual restaurants. Black Box said that while off-premises sales had been slowing as restaurants reopened, “that trend has now been reversed in the last three weeks.”
This new data comes on the same week Yelp released its latest Economic Average Report, which found that 60 percent of businesses that have closed are now shuttered permanently.
None of that makes for a very positive outlook for many independent restaurants used to relying on dine-in service that don’t have the dollars of a major chain to invest in off-premises. Starbucks or Chipotle, for example, may have the bucks to pivot their models to new, to-go-friendly formats that ensure sales. The future is much less certain for your favorite mom-and-pop joint, though.
Whether sales at full-service restaurants gain momentum again depends a lot on the trajectory of the pandemic. Judging from the latest numbers around the latter, dining room sales will likely stay down for some time to come.