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Despite many chains turning to creative solutions like curbside pickup or drive-through only, three of four restaurant operators don't expect to turn a profit in next 6 months, according to data from the National Restaurant Association, the main trade group in the industry.
Restaurants lost a striking $120 billion in sales between March and May, the research noted, forecasting the industry could lose another $240 billion in sales by the end of the year.
"State-mandated stay-at-home policies and forced closures of restaurant dining rooms resulted in losses of $30 billion in March, $50 billion in April, and another $40 billion in May," the group, which polled more than 3,800 restaurant operators from May 15 through May 25, said.
Even as states begin to reopen dine-in eating, 66 percent of respondents with restaurants open for takeout and delivery said it is still “too soon” to reopen safely. More than a third of those respondents, or 34 percent, said there aren’t enough customers to justify reopening.
Sales are recovering at big chains like Outback Steakhouse, but are still down 24 percent over last year. Same-store sales 24.7 percent for the week ending June 6, compared with a 32.8 percent drop for the week ending May 10.
The industry as a whole is also facing supply chain issues as a result of the outbreak. The costs of steaks, ribs and pork roasts are up 10 percent and whole chicken is up 7 percent, the Consumer Price Index recently reported.
In the National Restaurant Association’s past two surveys, the researchers noted that about 3 percent of all restaurants have closed permanently, stating the final figure will be “in the tens of thousands.”