This article was written by Kristi Turner, CMO of Compeat
Restaurant sales of Compeat customer base continue to hold somewhat flat in September which is consistent with many industry reports claiming an overall flattening of the economic recovery for restaurants.
The graph below shows the year over year restaurant sales for all Compeat restaurant locations that have remained open. Aug and Sept are holding at right around a -20% to -22% year over year sales, a significant improvements from our low point in Mar of -70%.
September brings the lowest percent of closed locations at an average of 18% compared to previous months at 20% or higher. This is the lowest monthly average for closed locations since the COVID pandemic hit in March.
There are several concerns and unknowns still haunting the restaurant industry, making any predictions for the next few months close to impossible. Top concerns for our customers include:
This has been especially challenging for operators managing multi-unit locations across many different geographic regions. Every city and state has different ordinances for operators to follow and the ordinances are constantly changing. The past few weeks, we see a few examples of states like Florida and Indiana announcing the release of all restrictions and allowing restaurants and bars to operate with no capacity restrictions while still mandating social distancing restrictions. With the infamous “6 feet apart” rule, this means restaurants allowed to operator at 100% capacity really means about 85% capacity.
Our customers have been hoping for a second round of government support and funding which currently does not look like it will happen anytime soon. The proposed RESTAURANTS Act has been halted at the time this article is being published. As the months of hardship add up, most restaurant operators have spent all initial PPP loan funding and vendors’ ability to continue payment flexibility has come to an end.
A few months ago we were talking about the devastation of furloughs and layoffs. Today, our customers are struggling with hiring back employees who were furloughed with the added complications of new areas of benefits and hazard pay as discussed by Kelli Valade, CEO of Black Box Intelligence in Nation’s Restaurant News.
Providing employees with flexible scheduling allows them to better manage a changing home life with virtual school for children and many adults working remote is one way restaurant operators are shifting (no pun intended) in order to create a better work environment for their employees. Read more about how our restaurant scheduling software can help with this here.
As the weather shifts, two fears haunt the industry. First, will cold weather bring more COVID cases or a horrible flu season and consumers will retreat home? Secondly, how will operators keep restaurant sales when outside seating is no longer an option. There are many resources like this one from Restaurant Business that will help restaurants combat the outdoor seating challenges with suggestions like:
- Replacing metal outdoor furniture with tables and chairs made from materials that feel warmer to the touch
- Adding greenery and shrubbery to not only help provide physical distance between tables but to also serve as a shield from wind elements
- Offering blankets that are laundered between each use
Even with these concerns on every restaurant operators’ mind there still remains hope that restaurant sale trends hold through the winter months and restaurant operators innovation continue to keep them in the game. It is also refreshing during these times to see new restaurant openings coming like our partners at Taffer’s Tavern. Check out the recent Forbe’s article on this new concept.
You can find all the latest industry data and tips for best practices on our Compeat COVID-19 resource page.
Sources and Disclaimers: The source for COVID-19 cases data as a percent of population as well as reopen vs closed states is the CDC website as of 9.30.20. Restaurant sales data is derived from all Compeat customers across the United States as of 9.30.20. Compeat has customers across different types of restaurants from fine dining to fast casual to quick service. However, we are heavily weighted toward fast casual concepts. There are certain states that have less restaurant locations than others. As such, data shared above should be taken with the above considerations.