Restaurant sales rebounded in May, but not enough

Restaurant sales rebounded in May, new federal data shows, as consumers continued to emerge from quarantine to use drive-thru and other takeout services and states began to gradually reopen restaurants. dining rooms.

Food services and drinking places sales rose 29% to $38.6 billion, driving an overall 17.7% increase in retail sales last month, according to new U.S. Census data.

The numbers suggest the industry has bottomed out. April sales were just under $30 billion, less than half of what they were in April a year ago and the lowest industry sales figure in more than a decade .

However, May sales, although improving, remain well below normal. The industry still has a long way to go to fully recover from the coronavirus pandemic and state-directed quarantines that have shut down dine-in service at restaurants nationwide.

May restaurant sales are still $25 billion lower than they were a year ago. Sales still need to improve by 39% before they can fully recover.

The chains reporting their sales figures all suggested things were looking up. Denny’s, the family restaurant chain, said on Tuesday that same-store sales had improved every week since early April, with a 40% drop in the week ended June 10, compared with a 79% drop the last week of March.

Meanwhile, the number of restaurants with dining facilities in operation rose from 11 on April 29 to 1,234 on June 10.

Fast-food giant McDonald’s also said it was improving, from a 19.2% decline in the United States in April to a 5.1% drop in May.

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