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Consumer Spending In Restaurants Well Below Pre-pandemic Levels In January: NRA

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The restaurant industry continues to struggle in pandemic conditions with January consumer spending in restaurants well below pre-pandemic levels, according to new data released by the National Restaurant Association or NRA.

Despite the slowdown in COVID-19 outbreaks and the increased distribution of vaccines, most restaurant operators do not expect a return-to-normal business conditions any time soon.

The association, which comprises 1 million restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of 15.6 million employees, further urged the Government to provide additional rescue fund for further running of their businesses.

In a letter addressing the Congressional leadership, the Association said the new data shows continued vulnerability for the country's second-largest private sector employer, and asked for passage of the $25 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund in the American Rescue Plan.

As per the NRA report, overall 77 percent of restaurant operators say their total dollar sales volume in January was lower than it was in January 2020. Nearly 450,000 restaurant jobs were lost from November 2020 to January 2021, representing about 10 percent of the total jobs recovered during the first six months after the spring shutdowns.

In 80 percent operators, the current staffing level is lower than what it would normally be in the absence of COVID-19.

Going ahead, 32 percent of operators think it will be 7-12 months before business conditions return to normal for their restaurant, while 29 percent think it will be more than a year. Meanwhile, 10 percent of operators expects the business conditions will never return to normal for their restaurant.

The NRA noted that while many other industries are recovering, the restaurant industry ended 2020 in a double-dip recession and with 2.5 million fewer jobs.

Between March 2020 and January 2021, restaurant and foodservice sales were down $255 billion from the expected levels. The association noted that fourteen percent of restaurant operators in the survey say they will "probably" or "definitely" be closed within 3 months if there are no additional relief packages from the federal government.

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