Merchants of all types have been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, though probably none more so than those operating in the restaurant industry. In fact, The National Restaurant Association projects a staggering $165 billion in sales was lost from March through July alone due to the pandemic. 8 million restaurant workers were either furloughed or laid off at the peak of the outbreak. As of September 4th, the industry remained 2.5 million workers below its pre-coronavirus peak.
While the industry as a whole has seen COVID-19 take a giant bite out of their profits, some types of restaurants have been better positioned to weather the storm based on the type of eatery they run, or how quickly they were able to pivot. Establishments for whom takeout, delivery, and drive-through dining were always the norm, have been far better positioned than others to adjust to a new reality of mandated closures, capacity restrictions, and curbside pickup. Sit-down restaurants, in particular those in the fine-dining sector, have had far more trouble navigating life post-coronavirus, as they are not accustomed to offering such services.
So what lies ahead for the restaurant industry in Q4 in the face of this new reality? Challenge and uncertainty. A lot depends on how well we take action now to stop the future spread of the virus. With autumn already upon us and winter just around the corner, researchers at Johns Hopkins University are sounding the alarm that a big new wave of cases could be arriving along with the cooler air. Even if cases don’t increase as the temperature drops, the study suggested tougher restrictions will be necessary simply to maintain the level of spread we are currently facing.
According to CNBC, with money running out from the Paycheck Protection Program, restaurants will have to find ways to combat and compete in the colder weather. Outdoor dining, which has played an important role in sustaining restaurants through the summer, will obviously become more limited as temperatures drop.
For their part, merchants themselves are quite worried. In fact, a survey of more than 3,500 members of the National Restaurant Association found that sales remain down by a third, with nearly 40% of operators saying their restaurants will likely be out of business within six months if economic conditions don’t improve. The survey also found that nearly 70% of operators have added curbside takeout and about a third have added third-party delivery to boost business while facing limited operations. Those merchants have the right idea. Restaurants will have to continue to do as much business via delivery, carryout, and curbside pickup as possible while they wait to see when they’ll be allowed to return to full capacity.
The bottom line is this: Our restaurant merchants need us now more than ever. We cannot wait until tomorrow. We must be proactive in reaching out to merchants to ensure they have the solutions they need to offer safe and convenient payment acceptance through virtual terminals for online orders. We must equip them with devices that promote proper social distancing through NFC contactless acceptance. Finally, we must continue to give them access to the data they need to make the smartest business decisions possible. Now, more than ever, every penny counts.
If you’d like to learn how North American Bancard can help you support your restaurant merchants, call 877.840.1952 or visit northamericanbancard.com for more details.