Loss of Seattle restaurant sales due to coronavirus expected to exceed 20%

Seattle Market restaurants, which were the first to deal with U.S. deaths from the coronavirus pandemic, saw sales drop 10% in the first week ended March 1, according to statistics released Wednesday by the hotel analysis company Black Box Intelligence.

“That only includes a day or two of heightened public awareness,” according to Black Box Financial Intelligence. “The real impact should be more than 20% of lost sales in restaurants after a full week. “

“There are two things at stake here,” said Victor Fernandez, Black Box Intelligence vice president for ideas, in an interview. “One is the more localized effect, which we saw in Seattle and which we hope to start seeing in markets like California and San Francisco. … The other complicating thing is the nationwide effect, but it’s hard to say at this point.

Dallas-based Black Box Intelligence has created a website with updated COVID-19 data.

“Full Service Restaurants in Washington [State] see the most negative effect in terms of lost sales, especially more upscale ones, ”noted Black Box, adding that there was initially a shift towards limited-service restaurants. Black Box defines “high end” restaurants as those with an average per person check of $ 25 or more.

At Seattle’s Pike Place Market, foot traffic has slowed down, according to arKOMO News report, with restaurant sales in some locations down about 30% from the same period last year, according to Heong Park, owner of Bacco Café and Chan restaurants in the market.

Park said he is optimistic that guests will start leaving their homes after getting over the initial shock of the virus spreading in their community. Park’s third Seattle restaurant, Meet Korean BBQ, in the nearby Capitol Hill neighborhood, always saw guests coming for dinners later, he said.

Visit Seattle, the tourism group, said Wednesday that “many restaurants” were seeing sales drop by as much as 40%.

Black Box also noted that Seattle has seen an increase in take-out restaurant sales following the initial reports.

“Average takeout sales by restaurant location increased 10.5% in Seattle during the week ending March 1,” noted Black Box.

These changes seem to indicate that as concerns about the virus continue to rise, customers are likely to favor faster or off-site dining experiences over extended sit-down meals at the server-interacting restaurant and sit-down among others. guests, ”Black Box said. These take-out transactions are likely replacing restaurant sales, Fernandez noted.

Unlike sales declines during the Great Recession of 2008, Fernandez said Seattle’s coronavirus declines appeared more focused on restaurants. “I think one would expect catering companies to get ahead and reassure customers that measures are in place to prevent minimizing risk,” he said.

Black Box also noted differences in sales demographics.

“In Seattle, spending by older customers (65 and over) in restaurants fell very significantly compared to their spending in the rest of the country during the week,” the report said. “This is the age group whose consumption is likely to be the most affected in the future as well.”

The coronavirus, or COVID-19, has more serious impacts on the health of older people, according to health experts. Most of the deaths in Seattle have been in an elderly care facility.

One foodservice category where Black Box data showed year-over-year growth in the wake of the coronavirus crisis was online grocery and meal kit sales.

“This could signal an upcoming trend as consumers shift more of their stomach spending towards options that allow them to avoid contact with other people while giving them more control over preparing foods. food and hygiene, ”noted the company’s Consumer Intelligence division.

Black Box is also measuring sentiment online, and the company said it was “starting to show increased customer attention to the coronavirus related to food safety and cleanliness, as well as paying attention to signs of illness among staff ”.

Fernandez said: “It’s still early days, but we’re seeing a lot of concern from guests about cleanliness or illness among the staff.”

Black Box will continue to update information and data, Fernandez said.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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