How Many Restaurants Will Permanently Close This Year?


COVID-19 has ended more restaurant jobs than any other industry—nearly double the job losses of the next most affected industry. For example, 27% of total U.S. job losses in April were restaurant workers. Estimates for job losses that month ranged from 5.9 million to 8 million workers, including at least 4.5 million job losses at independent restaurants. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, there were approximately 15 million U.S. restaurant and foodservice workers.

Below are the restaurant industry job losses by month, according to seasonally adjusted data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  • March: 633,200 job losses
  • April: 5,442,800 job losses
  • May: 1,461,700 job additions
  • June: 1,483,400 job additions
  • Total: 3,130,900 job losses

From February to May 2020, inclusive, net job losses can be broken down by type of restaurant.

  • Full service restaurants: 2,654,400 job losses
  • Quick service/fast casual restaurants: 613,600 job losses
  • Snack and beverage bars: 257,600 job losses
  • Bars, cafeterias, catering, couriers, contractors: 394,700 job losses

Note that there are a total one million eating and drinking businesses in the U.S.

How Many Restaurants Will Permanently Close

During the month of March, 3% of restaurants permanently closed. An additional 11% closed during the month of April. By the end of 2020, of the country’s 500,000 independently operated restaurants, estimates for permanent closures start around 25% in total, assuming no additional stimulus packages are passed by the federal government. The worst estimate comes from the National Bureau of Economic Research, predicting that 85% of restaurants will close if the COVID-19 pandemic lasts six more months.

Here are the latest estimates for how many restaurants will permanently close this year within the U.S.

  • 25% per OpenTable
  • 53% per Yelp
  • 80% per James Beard Foundation
  • 85% per the National Bureau of Economic Research

The restaurant industry has lost $120 billion in revenue so far this year, with that figure expected to double by the end of the year. Estimates for the impact of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) start at $36 billion of stimulus targeted at the restaurant owners.

Due to the large discrepancy between full year lost revenue of $240 billion versus the PPP’s $36 billion, the House of Representatives has introduced The Restaurants Act of 2020 which would provide an additional $120 billion to restaurants, if the act passes both chambers and is signed by President Donald Trump. The intention of this act is to mitigate the job losses in the restaurant industry, which employs roughly 1 in every 10 U.S. workers.

Analysts estimate restaurants will generate disappointing total revenue for 2020 of $899 billion versus the $1.13 trillion that could have been sold in the absence of a pandemic. The CDC has recorded 2.6 million total cases of COVID-19 and 128,024 deaths, including 54,357 new cases added today.

Photo by Scott Umstattd on Unsplash

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