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Restaurants Faring Worse Now Than They Were Three Months Ago, Survey Suggests

  • National Restaurant Association survey finds most restaurant owners saying business conditions have not improved for them
  • Delta variant, labor shortages, and higher costs identified as key issues
  • Trade group is lobbying for more direct relief to the food service industry and opposing some Biden administration proposals

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

The majority of restaurant owners say current conditions are worse than they were three months ago, according to a recent survey by the National Restaurant Association.

The findings highlight ongoing challenges facing the food service industry, which suffered major losses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the sector has been a leader in jobs recovery for the past several months, only 9 percent of the 4,000 restaurant owners surveyed between Sept. 7 and 15 said their business conditions have improved.

  • Respondents identified concerns about the Delta variant, a shortage in staffing, and higher food costs as key issues impacting their business
  • 91 percent said their food costs as a percentage of sales have risen since before the pandemic
  • More than three-quarters of respondents said they’re understaffed, resulting in steps such as a reduction in business hours, elimination of some menu items, and reduced seating capacity
  • 45 percent said they’re not operating at full capacity
  • 55 percent said they believe their sales will drop in the next three months
  • The National Restaurant Association is using the survey to lobby for further funding for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, as well as to challenge some Biden administration proposals such as raising the corporate tax rate and hefty penalties for labor violations

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