Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on restaurant industry

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants across the state and nation have and are still taking a financial hit.

Columbia, S.C. (WOLO) — Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants across the state and nation have and are still taking a financial hit. As the pandemic continues, restaurant owners have also had to work on finding safe and sustainable ways to keep serving.

One of the biggest challenges of the pandemic is that it’s constantly evolving. Restaurants were operating normally one day, and then the next everything changed.

“It’s been very difficult because restaurants with no real advance notice, were told that they had to shut down totally,” said Robin DiPietro, Director of the University of South Carolina’s School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management.

As time goes on during the pandemic, it can leave restaurant owners feeling uncertain about the future of their business.

“The anticipation is, over the year of 2020, the total calendar year, there will be about 25% to 45% of restaurants that will not make it. And that’s much higher than in a normal year,” said DiPietro.

It’s been a tough year for restaurants; with the sudden closure, then the limited reopenings, to now making sure they’re complying with COVID guidelines.

“2020 was supposed to be a year we were going to get up to $899 billion. And now we’re down from projections about $200 billion, so about 25% to 30% percent over the course of 2020 is what our sales volumes are going to be down,” said DiPietro.

Many local restaurants are small businesses, and they don’t have the deeper pockets to sustain the year that the bigger chains do.

“Columbia, and a lot of South Carolina, is built on these independent restaurants that we love so much. And a lot of them do not, did not and do not have the cash reserves to withstand this amount of time with this little volume,” said DiPietro. “The chain restaurants have the benefit of having deeper pockets and more locations. And they’ve been impacted too, I don’t want to say that they haven’t been impacted. But the benefit for them is they have many locations, and a lot of the chain restaurants have had to close down underperforming restaurants.”

But as we inch closer to 2021, there’s still hope as we know the restaurant industry will eventually bounce back.

“I’m crossing my fingers we’re going to start to see some positive changes come April, May, June of 2021. I do hope, I’m confident that once a vaccine is found, we have pent up demand,” said DiPietro.

DiPietro adds that it’s up to us, as consumers, to keep the small businesses afloat. Even if you’re still uncomfortable dining in, many restaurants are offering gift certificates online.

Categories: Local News, News, State