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COVID-19

The recovery for restaurants is slowing down

Sabri Ben-Achour Sep 15, 2020
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Yelp reports 31,000 restaurants on its platform have closed, the majority permanently. Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

The recovery for restaurants is slowing down

Sabri Ben-Achour Sep 15, 2020
Heard on:
Yelp reports 31,000 restaurants on its platform have closed, the majority permanently. Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Nearly 100,000 restaurants are closed either permanently or for the long term — nearly 1 in 6, according to a new survey by the National Restaurant Association.

Meanwhile, the number of workers being hired back in the hospitality and leisure industry has been getting lower and lower over the past couple of months. And almost 4.5 million jobs still haven’t come back.

Three of Tracy Vaught’s four restaurants in Houston are open. 

“I’m going to hang on,” she said. “I’m going to hang on no matter what.”

They are only open at 50% capacity, with reduced menus and hours. The last one though, has been closed for six months.

“It’s located in a hotel downtown in the convention district near the sporting arenas and a concert venue,” Vaught said.

She said it can’t stay closed much longer, so she’s going to try to open it up next month and see how it goes.

“For a lot of restaurants, even when they are shut down, they’re still paying fixed costs, they’re still paying rent, they’re still paying utilities, they’re still paying insurance,” said Sean Kennedy with the National Restaurant Association.

Kennedy said eight weeks of financial support in Paycheck Protection Program money that ran out months ago has not been enough. Yelp reports 31,000 restaurants on its platform have closed, the majority permanently. 

But restaurants have not been entirely helpless, points out Justin Norman, vice president of data science at Yelp.

“There are actually many businesses that have found a lot of new ways to innovate,” Norman said. That includes focusing on delivery, selling meal or cocktail kits, dining outside — though that option that will disappear in northern states as temperatures fall.

Expect more innovation, said David Portalatin, industry adviser for the NPD Group. 

“We are going to start seeing a different kind of restaurant emerge in the future,” he said.

However you slice it, Portalatin said, the United States will end the year with fewer restaurants than it began with. And it’s the larger chains that are more likely to survive. 

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy begins reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

Give me a snapshot of the labor market in the U.S.

U.S. job openings in February increased more than expected, according to the Labor Department. Also, the economy added over 900,000 jobs in March. For all of the good jobs news recently, there are still nearly 10 million people who are out of work, and more than 4 million of them have been unemployed for six months or longer. “So we still have a very long way to go until we get a full recovery,” said Elise Gould with the Economic Policy Institute. She said the industries that have the furthest to go are the ones you’d expect: “leisure and hospitality, accommodations, food services, restaurants” and the public sector, especially in education.

What do I need to know about tax season this year?

Glad you asked! We have a whole separate FAQ section on that. Some quick hits: The deadline has been extended from April 15 to May 17 for individuals. Also, millions of people received unemployment benefits in 2020 — up to $10,200 of which will now be tax-free for those with an adjusted gross income of less than $150,000. And, for those who filed before the American Rescue Plan passed, simply put, you do not need to file an amended return at the moment. Find answers to the rest of your questions here.

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