February may have been a good month for the restaurant industry in terms of job creation, but sales tell a different story. The National Restaurant Association, the “world’s largest restaurant trade association” representing more than 500,000 American restaurant businesses, reported on Tuesday March 16 that sales fell in February after a good month of January. In the previous month, “total restaurant and bar sales” were $55.6 billion, an increase of 9.2% from the end of 2020. In February, however, these sales fell slightly to $54.2 billion, down 2.5% from the previous month. .
“The recent increase in consumer spending likely reflects the additional economic impact payments that were rolled out earlier this year,” the National Restaurant Association’s chief economist wrote. Bruce Grindy. “As the next round of stimulus checks hit bank accounts, consumers should once again be ready to burn off some of their accumulated pent-up demand for restaurants.”
February sales remained above November/December 2020 levels, at $53.5 billion and $50.9 billion respectively, but were still 17% below February 2020 volume, $65.3 billion. dollars. In part, these weak sales may be due to cold temperatures, as much of on-site dining remains restricted to outdoors amid ongoing virus outbreaks. The average temperature in the 48 contiguous U.S. states was 30.6°F for the month, according to the The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrationsignificantly colder than January 34.6°F.
Along with improving weather and March’s round of stimulus checks, restaurants can also expect $28.6 billion in relief to pour into the industry in the coming months, according to the US rescue planthe $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill signed into law last Thursday (March 11).
“The creation of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund will be a catalyst to revive restaurants and save jobs across the country,” said the association’s president and CEO. Tom Bene in the association declaration. “…This fund is a victory for the smallest and hardest-hit restaurants that have sacrificed and innovated to continue serving their communities.”
Moreover, by NPR Account Thursday, March 18, more than 22% of Americans received at least one dose of the vaccine. As immunity spreads across the country, more consumers will return to restaurants, indulging in their pent-up demand for dining experiences. Data from PYMNTS revealed that 61% of consumers are interested in dining out more often than they currently are, with the highest income consumers being the most eager to dine out. As these consumers return to restaurants to eat in, sales will likely see an increase in the coming months.
It is up to restaurants, however, to retain the share of sales they are likely to recoup, turning this surge of enthusiasm into long-term habits. Over the past 12 months, consumers have become accustomed to relying on groceries to meet the essentials of their food needs. To win back these consumers, restaurants will need to use habit-forming tools like loyalty rewards and seamless mobile ordering technologies, integrating themselves back into diners’ daily routines.