Report: 10,000 More U.S. Restaurants to Close Before End of Year

An estimated 110,000 restaurants have already shuttered during the coronavirus pandemic.

For months, restaurant workers have been ringing the alarm bells, urging the government to intervene with aid before the colder months shutter more small businesses for good. So far this year, an estimated 110,000 restaurants have closed due to the pandemic, and those that haven't are barely hanging on with takeout orders and significantly reduced dining capacities, with colder temperatures in many states limiting outdoor service. It is only going to get worse: The National Restaurant Association released the results of a new study that estimates 10,000 more restaurants will permanently close in the next three weeks.

Empty Restaurant
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In the survey of 6,000 restaurant operators, 87% of full-service restaurants reported an average 36% drop in revenue. 83% of operators surveyed predicted that sales would be "even worse" over the following three months. "The vast majority of permanently closed restaurants were well-established businesses, and fixtures in their communities," read the report. "On average these restaurants had been in business for 16 years, and 16% had been open for at least 30 years."

In October, many national restaurant chains reported strong sales as independent businesses continued to close en masse. It is estimated that 17% of America's restaurants have permanently closed this year.

The National Restaurant Association sent the survey findings to Congress to advocate for the speedy passage of a coronavirus relief package that supports the industry and its employees.

"What these findings make clear is that more than 500,000 restaurants of every business type—franchise, chain, and independent—are in an economic free fall," said Sean Kennedy, executive vice president for Public Affairs. "And for every month that passes without a solution from Congress, thousands more restaurants will close their doors for good."

Meanwhile, the circumstances for restaurant workers grow even bleaker. A new study from One Fair Wage, a group that advocates for higher wages for restaurant workers and the elimination of the tipped minimum wage, found that 80% of workers reported a decline in tip, and roughly 40% said they'd experienced an increase in sexual harassment on the job.

"Sixty percent of workers said that they did not feel comfortable enforcing social distancing and mask rules on the very same customers from whom they have to get tips to survive, to make up their base wage," One Fair Wage president Saru Jayaraman told NPR. "And that's a public health disaster because the CDC in September reported that adults are twice as likely to get COVID from eating in a restaurant."

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