Apr 22, 2020

Devastating Impact of COVID-19 on Wisconsin Restaurants

2020-04-17-COVID19SurveyInfographicVOL2_WIThe National Restaurant Association has completed a nationwide survey of 6,500 restaurant owners and operators from April 10-16, 2020 in their ongoing assessment to provide data-driven updates on the state of the restaurant industry. The results are stark for Wisconsin and nationally.

Wisconsin Results

  • On average, restaurant operators reported a 70 percent decline in sales during the period from April 1 to April 10.
  • Based on these results, the National Restaurant Association estimates that the Wisconsin restaurant and foodservice industry will lose more than $630 million in sales in April, if the trends continue through the end of the month.
  • Eighty-four percent of Wisconsin restaurant operators say they have laid off or furloughed employees since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in March. Nine percent of operators anticipate laying off or furloughing additional employees during the next 30 days.
  • Among restaurant operators that laid off or furloughed employees, the average reduction was 81 percent of the restaurant’s total staff.
  • Based on these results, the National Restaurant Association estimates that more than 136,000 restaurant employees in Wisconsin have been laid off or furloughed since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in March. This represents at least 68 percent of the 199,900 employees who were working at Wisconsin’s eating and drinking places in February.
  • Ninety-seven percent of Wisconsin restaurant operators say their total dollar sales volume during the period from April 1 to April 10 was lower than it was during the same period in 2019. 
  • Sixty-one percent of Wisconsin operators say they continued operating but for off-premises traffic only. Fifty-nine percent of operators anticipate operating for off-premises traffic during the next 30 days.
  • Forty-four percent of Wisconsin operators say they temporarily closed their restaurant since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in March. Forty percent of operators anticipate temporarily closing their restaurant during the next 30 days.

“We have been hearing from restaurant operators that the COVID-19 crisis has been devastating to their businesses, but the numbers really drive it home,” says Kristine Hillmer, President & CEO of the Wisconsin Restaurant Association. “It is critical that the state has a solid plan to safely reopen the state as soon as possible.”  

National Results

  • Eight million restaurant employees have already been laid off or furloughed. This represents two out of every three restaurant jobs.
  • The restaurant/foodservice industry lost $30 billion in revenue in March and is on track to lose an additional $50 billion by the end of this month.
  • Four in ten restaurants have closed their doors, some with no hope of reopening.  
  • Over 60% of restaurant owners say that existing federal relief programs – including the CARES Act – will not enable them to keep their employees on payroll throughout the downturn.
  • Assuming a gradual reopening of the economy in June 2020, we forecast sustained losses of $240 billion for restaurants by the end of the year.

The Wisconsin Restaurant Association is one of the largest trade associations in the state with over 7,000 member locations throughout Wisconsin.  The mission of the Wisconsin Restaurant Association is dedicated to the success of the Foodservice and Hospitality Industry.  The Association advocates on behalf of the restaurant industry, provides a voice for the restaurant industry to consumers and the media and provides access to information and services to help members better run their businesses.  WRA represents the entire foodservice industry which includes over 16,000 licensed food service establishments.