June 17, 2020

Spring foodservice sales down $120 billion in US amid COVID-19

Total foodservice sales in the U.S. from March to May were off in excess of $120 billion, according a report from the National Restaurant Association.

The association estimates, which are based on U.S. Census Bureau data, have “eating and drinking place” sales $94 billion below what was expected had COVID-19 closures and restrictions not been in place. The $94 billion estimate does not include other foodservice sectors, such as hotels, entertainment venues, schools and healthcare facilities. Eating and drinking places represent about 75% of the total foodservice market.

  • During March, when restrictions began to go into place, eating and drinking place sales were $45.7 million, which was 29.1% below March 2019.
  • April was the worst month with sales at $29.9 billion, which was 53.8% below last year.
  • May saw an uptick from April with $38.6 billion in sales, but that was still down 40.3%, year-over-year.

While many sit-down restaurants have begun to reopen in recent weeks, albeit often at a 50% capacity, trends for reduced foodservice sales likely will continue for the rest of 2020.

“The shift to home food seems to be staying (for the rest of 2020),” said Hale Holden, the head of U.S. high yield research and managing director of Barclays, said during a recent Food Institute webinar. “(Out of) 700,000 restaurants, 10 to 15% won’t open across the U.S. and will close permanently.”

Top photo: An Applebee’s in Grand Rapids, Michigan, sits empty on a Saturday evening in April 2020. 

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