Any realistic look at how far away the end of the tunnel is has to begin with an honest appraisal of where we are at right now. The most recent jobs reports show large-scale losses in the hospitality and restaurant space.
I encourage you to check out Joe Carbonara’s E&S Extra and Jerry Stiegler’s This Week in Foodservice blogs for the latest statistics and other information related to the performance of the foodservice industry.
We are in the midst of the post-holiday spike in COVID-19 cases that the experts warned us about. According to AAA, air travel between Christmas and New Year’s was down about 59% and car travel by 25%. Yet, despite Americans curtailing their travel somewhat over the holidays, the coronavirus was still circulating rapidly as of mid-January and we are living through the results.
As tough as things are right now, there are signs that help is on the way. The second round of government stimulus includes more direct payments to workers, increased unemployment benefits, plus a new round of Paycheck Protection Program loans that promise to get aid to smaller companies and includes a kicker that benefits companies in the foodservice space. Companies that have a NAICS Sector 72 code designation for foodservice may be eligible for 31/2 times their monthly payroll instead of 21/2 times for everyone else.
The case for a restaurant rebound in the second half of 2021 is a compelling one. There is pent up consumer demand for a return to normalcy, which includes dining out more often as the experience begins to feel safer. The acceleration of a national vaccination program promised by the new administration will play a central role in restoring confidence.
Here is wishing you all stay healthy, the industry rebounds (as I know it will) sooner rather than later, and that you and your business and family stay in a positive headspace. We will all get through this and hope feels more important now than ever. I believe we have already seen the worst, and we are on the uptick to getting back to our new normal. Personally, I cannot wait to see everyone in person and to enjoy a relaxing meal in one of the new restaurants that are soon to be opening.