Roughly 17% of US restaurants have permanently shut down since the start of the pandemic as industry leaders warn of an 'unprecedented economic decline'

Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe/Getty ImagesA Friendly’s restaurant with a ‘closed’ sign.
  • Since the onset of the pandemic, 17% of US restaurants have permanently shut down – about 110,000 establishments.
  • That’s according to a new survey from the National Restaurant Association, which was shared on Monday with the majority and minority leaders of both the Senate and House of Representatives.
  • Last week, restaurant sales dropped to their lowest level since the start of August, according to UBS research, as COVID cases jumped 10% in the US.
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The coronavirus pandemic is decimating the restaurant industry.

The National Restaurant Association, a restaurant industry group, sent a letter on Monday to majority and minority leaders in both the Senate and House of Representatives sharing the results of a nationwide survey on the economic plight of restaurants.

The survey found that since the onset of the pandemic, 17% of US restaurants — or about 110,000 establishments— have permanently closed down, with 10,000 closing in the last three months alone.

The majority of restaurants that closed were not brand-new businesses, the association found: on average, they’d been in business for 16 years.

“What these findings make clear is that more than 500,000 restaurants of every business type — franchise, chain, and independent — are in an unprecedented economic decline. And for every month that passes without a solution from Congress, thousands more restaurants across the country will close their doors for good,” according to Sean Kennedy, executive vice president of public affairs for the group and the author of the letter.

The National Restaurant Association is advocating for a relief plan that would include a second round of Paycheck Protection Program loans as well as a tax credit to help employers keep workers on their payrolls.


Read more:
Sales return to normal levels at massive chains, but independent restaurants continue to struggle — a trend that could permanently change the industry

For those restaurants who have managed to stay open this year, the economic picture is still grim. The survey found that 58% of both chain and independent restaurants expect they will have to furlough or lay-off employees during the next three months, and most full-service restaurants have seen a 36% decline in sales revenue during the pandemic.

The survey findings come as restaurants nationwide face another round of lockdowns amid a worsening coronavirus landscape. Last week, restaurant sales dropped to their lowest level since the start of August, according to UBS research, as cases jumped 10% in the US. The US now has a total of more than 14 million confirmed COVID cases and 280,000 deaths,according to Johns Hopkins University.

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