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Majority of restaurants say business is worse than 3 months ago: survey


More than half of restaurant operators surveyed by the National Restaurant Association say that business conditions are worse now than three months ago.

The trade group surveyed 4,000 operators between Sept. 7 and Sept. 15 and is using the results to lobby against President Joe Biden’s plan to raise the corporate tax rate and proposed changes to the National Labor Relations Act that would allow fines of $50,000 to $100,000 for labor violations. Additionally, they are asking legislators to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund that was set up during the crisis to support the industry.

In a letter addressed to Congress, Sean Kennedy, NRA Vice President for Public Affairs wrote that “Restaurants still require help today” and warned that imposing costly obligations on them will hinder progress towards turning the tide in recovery.

It is also facing problems such as the delta variant, low staffing and high food prices. Only 9 percent of the respondents claimed that conditions in their business have improved over three months.

There has been uncertainty about the future of customer demand due to Covid-19’s recent surge. Respondents to the survey said that only 45% of their restaurants were open indoors. Morning Consult’s weekly dining tracker The survey found that 64% Americans feel at ease dining in a restaurant. Although the poll is stable for four weeks, it has fallen 7% since its peak on Fourth of July.

NRA poll respondents surveyed more than 35% of restaurant operators. 83% of those who responded to the survey said they were at least 10% short on staff, and 39% say that their restaurants are lacking more than half of their required workforce. Responding to the problem, many restaurateurs have cut their hours and reduced their seating capacity. These actions can impact their revenue.

The food supply problems are also impacting menu choices. Only 5% had not experienced shortages or delays in key food and drink supplies over the past three months. The 91% who reported that total food costs have increased as a percentage to sales has also contributed to lower margins.

Jack in the Box is among the restaurant companies that have announced plans to raise prices as costs for labor and food rise, while Outback Steakhouse parent Bloomin’ Brands has been cutting back on promotions.

Most operators are pessimistic about the future. Operators surveyed by us believed that their sales would fall in the following three months.