The National Restaurant Association this week released new survey data highlighting the devastating impact the omicron variant has had so far, and the positive impact the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) had on the industry.
In a letter to Congress, the association highlighted that the survey shows that the first round of RRF funding saved more than 900,000 jobs and helped 96% of recipients of a grant stay in business. Other NRA key findings:
- Nearly 50% of restaurant operators that did not receive RRF grants feel it’s unlikely that they will stay in business beyond the pandemic without a grant.
- 94% of restaurant operators that applied for an RRF grant, but did not receive funding, said a future grant would enable them to retain or hire back employees.
“This highlights how impactful RRF replenishment would be. Our own estimates indicate that replenishing the RRF would save an additional 1.6 million restaurant jobs,” said Sean Kennedy, executive vice president for NRA's public affairs.
“The RRF was a critical lifeline to many, but far more remain on the sidelines, desperately looking for support amidst continued economic uncertainty," he added.
Kennedy said the decisions Congress will make in the coming weeks will be critical for the future of restaurants.
The entire foodservice industry was hit hard by the latest surge of COVID-19 cases caused by the omicron variant. Forced to adapt to deteriorating consumer confidence, restaurants reduced hours/days of operation, cut seating capacity, and shutdown, pivoting to off-premises dining with the end result being lower sales volumes in 2021 than in 2019.
According to the survey:
- 88% of restaurants experienced a decline in customer demand for indoor on-premises dining in because of the omicron variant.
- 76% of operators report that business conditions are worse now than three months ago.
- 74% say their restaurant is less profitable now than it was before the pandemic.
“The new data show that restaurant recovery is paralyzed and nowhere near complete. The restaurant industry is at an inflection point, and we need your leadership now more than ever. Congress must act now, to replenish the RRF in the upcoming legislative package to fund the government,” said Kennedy in the letter.
Read the full letter to Congress here.
The National Restaurant Association Research Group conducted the COVID-19 Restaurant Impact Survey of 4,200 restaurant operators from Jan. 16 to 18. Read the report of key findings here.