Full-service restaurant sales plummet, off-premises still up

As the number of COVID-19 cases increases in several states, the recovery of full-service restaurants has slowed, according to new data from Black Box Intelligence in a story by Nation’s Restaurant News.

Black Box, a restaurant analytics firm based in Dallas, Texas, said that as COVID-19 cases increase and new restrictions are put in place (see California), restaurant sales in restaurants had dwindled.

This is partly due to the number of restaurants actually open for catering service. “After a steady increase since late April, the percentage of restaurants existing in the pre-COVID era that are now open for dinner has plateaued at around 87% over the past three weeks,” Black Box said.

That shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. In recent weeks, major chains like McDonald’s have halted plans to reopen dining rooms, and some states have either reduced capacity or ordered a complete shutdown of internal service.

No wonder either: off-premises sales are increasing for fast-casual and fast-casual restaurants. Black Box said while off-premises sales had slowed as restaurants reopened, “that trend has now reversed over the past three weeks.”

This new data comes the same week that Yelp released its latest Economic Average report, which found that 60% of businesses that closed are now permanently closed.

None of this paints a very positive outlook for many independent restaurants used to relying on food service that don’t have the big chain dollars to invest in offsite space. Starbucks or Chipotle, for example, can afford to pivot their models to new user-friendly formats that guarantee sales. The future, however, is much less certain for your favorite family joint.

The recovery of sales at full-service restaurants depends a lot on the trajectory of the pandemic. Judging by the last numbers around the latter, dining room sales will likely remain down for some time to come.

Comments are closed.