National Restaurant Association VP Shares COVID-19 Impact
Many local restaurants, even with providing curbside and delivery options, are feeling a financial strain with the 'Stay Home' order. The restaurant industry is one of the hardest hit sectors , evident in unemployment claims.
"It's (the impact) has been staggering," said Sean Kennedy, National Restaurant Association public affairs vice president. "The restaurant industry was the first industry to be shut down because of coronavirus. We're such an incredibly social facing industry."
According to Kennedy, many had braced themselves in anticipation for a high degree of job loss and revenue loss, but still underestimated the numbers.
"The numbers that just came out Monday...8 million people have been laid off or furloughed. That's two out of every three restaurant jobs," said Kennedy.
The industry itself has lost $80 billion in revenue so far and its estimated even with gradual reopens that number will jump to $240 billion by the end of the year. Washington state has 76% of its restaurant workforce is at home, furloughed or without a job. However, halting restaurant services also rolls over into other industries due to the supply chain.
"The restaurant industry generally only makes about 5% of profit so what that means that other 95% is reinvested in the local community. We're buying local produce, we're paying local workers, we're hiring local tradespeople to maintain the operation of the restaurant," said Kennedy. "So we're really an economic cornerstone in the community."
The point was made that the impact goes beyond the possibility of a favorite restaurant closing down, but rather the economy itself. According to Kennedy, restaurant and food service feeds $2.5 trillion in economic impact.
"We were the first industry to be shut down, we're the second largest private sector employer and there's no other industry that's seen job loss and revenue loss, that's so important to the community, as us right now," said Kennedy. "We need a unique solution from Congress."