Main Street USA is on life support.
Restaurants and retail shops have been hit especially hard by the coronavirus pandemic. With no dining rooms or shopping floors to fill, mom and pops are relying on delivery, takeout and curbside pickups to pay the bills. But new data reveals that many are on the brink of shutting down for good.
The new report from Yelp found that since the beginning of March, 23,981 restaurants that are listed on their platform shut down completely at some point during the pandemic, and 53% of those have already decided to close their doors for good.
That’s more than other sectors of the service industry. Retail stores are expected to lose 35% of its locations, and 24% of beauty salons and 26% of gyms are not planning to return.
Yelp told Today.com its data is “representative” of the whole of American restaurants.
According to the National Restaurant Association, “3% of restaurants have closed permanently,” said spokesperson Vanessa Sink. Using the Bureau of Labor Statistics data, that comes to nearly 20,000 closures.
“The full scope of closures won’t be known until government statistics are released months from now,” Sink said. “The association projects the final number will be in the tens of thousands.”
Yet, in spite of their financial hardships, many restaurant owners are reticent to return to business as usual.
Brooklyn restaurateur Michael Schall tells The Post that the idea of reopening his dining rooms anytime soon is “crazy.” Of his three restaurants, only one — Bar Camillo — has an outdoor space that allows him to seat a limited number of customers during New York City’s Phase 2 of nonessential businesses reopening.
Schall isn’t confident diners will be ready to come and stay indoors, either, starting July 6, when Phase 3 was slated to begin. “I don’t know if people will want to come back and eat inside a restaurant,” he says.
A recent Bloomberg report received statements from more than a half-dozen other NYC chefs — all of whom openly expressed their anxieties over reopening.
Emil Stefanov, general manager of the West Village’s Boucherie, said, “If they tell us they’re postponing the resumption of indoor dining, I won’t think how bad it is for my business. I’ll think about how bad the situation is getting [in terms of public health].”
But many Yelp users beg to differ, according to their Local Economic Impact Report, which also gauged customers’ current search interests on the platform. It reported a spike in user activity between May 1 to June 15 — during a period when several states, including New York, were slowly lifting stay-at-home restrictions.
Even if some are willing to risk it, Schall is prioritizing the health of his staff over profit.
“I’m still on the fence on whether I want people in there … Now our safe inside space just for our staff would no longer be a safe inside space,” he says.
That said, he’s just as worried about the health of his business.
“I’m really concerned about what will happen in the winter,” says Schall, who suggested he won’t be comfortable seating customers indoors until a vaccine or a breakthrough medicinal “cocktail” has been developed.
In order for his restaurants and tens of thousands of others to survive the duration of 2020, he suspects more government stimulus may be called for.
“We’re gonna need more than what we’ve got now,” he says.
Share this article:
Source: Read Full Article