A new investigation found that a majority of independent restaurants in the United States saw declining sales in December 2021, following an increase in Covid-19 cases driven by the Omicron variant.
The survey is based on data collected by the Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC) from nearly 1,200 member restaurants and bars in 50 U.S. states, including those that have not received Restaurant Revitalization Fund grants. (RRF).
According to the survey results, around 58% of businesses said their sales had more than halved in December 2021.
About 46% of businesses also had to reduce their opening hours for more than ten days last month, the data showed.
In addition, the survey found that about 42% of restaurant businesses that did not receive RRF subsidies are at risk of bankruptcy. This figure drops to 20% for those who received the subsidy.
IRC Executive Director Erika Polmar said: “The surge of Omicron has pushed many restaurants to the brink, especially those still waiting for RRF grants.
“These businesses are filing for bankruptcy and receiving eviction notices after crying for help for almost two years. It’s no surprise – the IRC hears these stories every day.
“Congress and the Biden administration need to treat this as the crisis it is and reconstitute the RRF. The nearly 200,000 restaurants and bars left behind in the first funding round are running out of time.
The survey also added that 41% of restaurants that have not yet received a grant from the RRF take out personal loans to keep their business afloat, while around one in four businesses would sell their personal assets.
The survey found that, on average, restaurants that received the subsidy reduced their workforce by 21%, while businesses without the RRF subsidy reduced their workforce by 30%.
According to the National Restaurant Association, the restaurant industry has seen more than 90,000 closures since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.