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41% of Indiana restaurants 'unlikely' to still be open in six months, survey finds

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Posted at 12:38 PM, Sep 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-23 12:01:05-04

INDIANAPOLIS — It is unlikely that 41% of Indiana's restaurants will still be in business come next March, according to the Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association.

Perhaps even more startling is that 46% of Indiana operators say it's unlikely their restaurant will be in business six months from now if there are no additional relief packages from the federal government.

It's been over six months now since the coronavirus pandemic swept across the globe, putting immense pressure on restaurant owners. The National Restaurant Association surveyed 3,500 restaurant operators to see how the past six months have been, and also how owners are foreseeing the next six.

Although many restaurants brought employees back as restrictions slowly lifted in recent months, overall staffing levels remain well below average.

Indiana restaurant owners say their current staffing levels are only 70% of what they would typically be.

READ | Organization grants over $122K to Hoosier hospitality workers hard hit by pandemic |

The Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association also reports that 43% of Indiana restaurants do not expect staffing numbers to return to pre-coronavirus levels within the next six months.

“Our industry is doing everything it can to stay afloat, take care of their employees and continue to serve their communities, but bluntly, they can only do so much and for so much longer," Patrick Tamm, the president and CEO of the Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association, said.

"They desperately need additional relief from the government and continued patronage of their establishments from both a dine-in and carryout perspective,” Tamm said. “It will be near impossible to operate like this with colder weather on the way and little outdoor seating options. We have not begun the healing process, and without relief, many currently and previously in the hospitality industry will be or will continue to be unemployed."

The National Restaurant Association's survey found that the financial impact is stifling the restaurant industry as a whole, and relief provided by the state and federal levels will determine how they fare in the coming months. Here are other significant findings in the survey:

  • 88% of Indiana restaurant operators say their total dollar sales volume in August was lower than it was in August 2019. Overall, sales were down 37 percent on average.
  • 51% percent of Indiana operators say their restaurant’s total operational costs (as a percent of sales) are higher than they were prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. Only 22% of operators say their costs are lower, as a percent of sales.
  • 64% percent of operators say off-premises sales currently represents a higher proportion of their total business than it did prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • 34% of Indiana operators say business conditions in August were worse than they were in July, while only 15% say business conditions improved in August.
  • 66% of Indiana operators say they don’t expect their restaurant’s sales to return to pre-coronavirus levels within the next six months.
  • In the weeks following the initial rehiring surge that occurred in May and June, restaurant staffing trends were mixed. 41% of restaurant operators say they added employees in July and August, while 20% say they laid off or furloughed employees in July and August.
  • 26% of Indiana restaurant operators say they plan to add more employees during the next 30 days, while 21% say they anticipate laying off or furloughing more employees during the next 30 days.

MORE | Indianapolis' restaurant and hospitality industry is fighting for itself — here's how you can help | Indianapolis restaurants and businesses permanently closed due to COVID-19 |