Restaurant Industry Financial Security in Danger of Being Wiped Out by Delta Variant
Washington, D.C. – Today, the National Restaurant Association and its state restaurant association partners sent a letter to Congressional leadership, sharing concerning new consumer confidence survey findings and urging swift replenishment of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF).
The survey found that a majority of consumers have already changed their dining behavior, which is beginning to put acute pressure back on the restaurant industry. This faltering consumer confidence comes on top of food and labor costs that are increasing at their fastest pace in several years, continued indoor capacity limits in 11 states, and crushing long-term debt loads for countless restaurant owners.
Specifically, the survey found:
- 6 in 10 adults changed their restaurant use due to the rise in the delta variant
- 19% of adults have stopped going out to restaurants
- 9% have cancelled existing plans to go out to a restaurant in recent weeks
- 37% have ordered takeout or delivery instead of going out to a restaurant
- 19% have chosen to sit outside instead of inside when going out to a restaurant
“For an industry that requires a ‘full house’ every evening to make a profit, this is a dangerous trend,” said Sean Kennedy, executive vice president of Public Affairs for the National Restaurant Association. “These changes indicate declining consumer confidence that will make it more difficult for most restaurant owners to maintain their delicate financial stability.”
The letter urges Congress to complete the mission of the RRF and provide adequate funds to replenish the program and offer relief for the applications still pending.
“The rise of coronavirus variants like delta threaten to push these restaurants closer to permanently closing their doors,” added Kennedy. "The RRF has proven its effectiveness in every state, saving restaurants, workers, and the suppliers who depend on their business. The small gains that our industry has made toward financial security are in danger of being wiped out, dashing the hopes of communities, entrepreneurs, and consumers nationwide.”
177,000 RRF applications that totaled $43.6 billion in grants are still pending.
While the first half of 2021 showed positive gains for the industry, there is still a long road ahead, especially for fullservice restaurants facing the greatest threat from new government restrictions in response to the delta variant.
Read the full letter here.