Updated: Sep 20, 2021
Image Source: 1851 Franchise
By: Michael Argenta
September 12, 2021
Back to normal. With rising vaccination rates and hungry customers to feed, restaurants eagerly reopened dining rooms across the country. From small family owned eateries to major chains, owners were excited to allow people back inside their establishments, but the COVID-19 Delta Variant now hinders expectations.
Major fast food giants, McDonald’s and Chick-fil-A are slowing reopenings while other restaurants are losing customers or moving diners outdoors while weather still allows. Although over 177 million Americans are vaccinated against COVID-19, cases continue to rise among both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. Over a year and a half after it started, COVID-19 continues to change the restaurant market. Sales that had steadily grown throughout the summer have declined as “1 in 5 Americans say they are no longer going out to restaurants.” In any business, a 20% change in customer base is not good and is no different here.
Due to lost profits, publicly traded restaurants have seen a decrease in share prices over the last few weeks. With fewer customers, companies like Chili’s and Applebee's are down 16% and 14%, respectively. While major chains are struggling, the impact of the Delta Variant is only amplified for small businesses. With many small restaurants already closing during the pandemic, others fear that they may be next due to the resurgence of COVID-19.
Within the last month, the food service industry has lost over 41,500 jobs; The most in any job market sector. Drive-thru and take-out services are not options for every restaurant, but owners are not ready to see losses again. While health and safety is in everyone’s best interest, vaccinated or unvaccinated, the economy will once again take a hit. Don’t be surprised when many restaurants offer drive-thru or take-out only in the near future.