Staff at The Vineyard Restaurant prepare food and drinks for patrons under social distancing guidelines in June. Photo contributed.

published on December 31, 2020 - 2:57 PM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

Across the nation, among all restaurant types, a new study shows food and drink spending only dropped an average of 1% year-over-year, but a regional look at the data show a more nuanced story.

Comparing the past part of December to January (before U.S. pandemic restrictions), consumer spending at restaurants in individual states ranges from being up 26% to being down 47%, according to a press release citing data from TOP Data and Zenreach.

John Kelly, CEO of Zenreach, stated “With the number of COVID-19 cases skyrocketing and with the return of more business restrictions, it’s clear we will not be out of the woods for a bit. The difference, however, between this recent wave of closures and the ones which took place earlier in the year is that we now better understand the formula for getting through this challenging period

“If you can create a safe dining environment, effectively target your best customers, and maintain (or even boost) your marketing spend, the more likely you are to successfully drive customers into your locations and sustain your restaurant business during this challenging time.”

The data compared the last two weeks of December to January 2020. For more context, according to U.S. Census Data presented by the National Restaurant Association, a seasonally-adjusted $65.5 billion was spent this past January at bars and restaurants.

Data show a 29% average drop in California restaurant sales — the fourth worst in the nation.

Idaho suffered the hardest at a 47% average decrease.

Washington state had the highest increase, netting a 26% increase in restaurant sales in the last two weeks compared to January.

Increases or decrease have not been spread evenly for restaurant types. Data from TOP Data show increases for GrubHub sales at 56% compared to January 2020. Sonic has shown a 42% increase in sales and Chik-Fil-A has increased 23% in sales in the same period. Meanwhile, Olive Garden sales have decreased 33%, Subway decreased 27% and Chili’s decreased 17%, according to the release.

Here’s the top states that are currently spending more at restaurants than they did in January 2020, in terms of their percent increase:

Washington – 26%
Utah – 24%
South Dakota – 20%
Alaska – 19%
Alabama – 18%
Nebraska – 18%
North Dakota – 16%
Indiana – 15%
Montana – 15%
Kentucky – 14%
Delaware – 14%
Wisconsin – 13%

And here’s a list of the states spending less at restaurants than they did in January 2020, in terms of their percent decrease:

Idaho – 47%
Massachusetts – 41%
Rhode Island – 34%
California – 29%
New Jersey – 24%
New Hampshire – 19%
New York – 18%
Connecticut – 17%
Florida – 11%
Michigan – 11%
Nevada – 10%
Pennsylvania – 7%

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