Predictions about the restaurant industry’s fate in a post-pandemic world have been abundant throughout the crisis. The National Restaurant Association estimated that 15% of restaurants could close, while Barclay’s estimate is more optimistic, predicting approximately 10% of restaurants will shutter permanently.
Though it’s hard to find a silver lining in Yelp’s data, some predictions have been more dire still. In May, OpenTable said one in four restaurants were at risk for closure, for example, though those numbers focus on restaurants that use the reservations platform. Casual or fine dining sit-down restaurants and mom-and-pop concepts that are not well capitalized are expected to experience the brunt of this crisis. The Independent Restaurant Coalition, for example, forecast that as many as 85% of independent restaurants could permanently close by the end of the year.
Yelp’s data does illustrate how some restaurants have been able to weather the storm, however, reporting a 10-fold increase in searches for takeout since March 10, for example. Takeout and delivery searches are up 148%, with Yelp predicting this off-premise trend could be here to stay.
The research also shows that restaurants catering to group dining are making a comeback, with fondue searches up 123%, tapas bars up 98%, hot pot up 49% and buffets up 17%. Conversely, searches for cuisines that were popular during the past three months have begun to wane, including pizza (down 28%), Chinese (down 26%) and fast food (down 18%).
While the pendulum has swung toward group dining, perhaps due to pent up demand after three-plus-months of safer at home orders and dining room closures in some markets, this interest could be short lived. This data was released before a number of states — New Jersey, New York and California among them — have delayed or re-closed some or all of their restaurants due to spiking coronavirus cases. Extended closures will further challenge operators who are burning through cash to maintain rent, labor and other costs. Restaurants with the strongest balance sheets and best access to capital have the best chance to endure sustained closures. The industry will favor the haves and weed out the have-nots, a trend that has become clearer as major chains like Taco Bell, Domino’s and McDonald’s have announced massive hiring sprees.
We just sent you an email. Please click the link in the email to confirm your subscription!
OKSubscriptions powered by Strikingly