Restaurants come back from pandemic as Americans spend more than ever eating out.
How can you tell the pandemic is nearly over? Americans are spending more than ever at restaurants.
Sales at bars and restaurants surged in May for the third month in a row to push total receipts to an all-time high of $67.3 billion, new government figures show. Americans are going out to eat again spending at restaurants hits record high in May as pandemic fadesSource
: U.S. Census Bureau via St. Louis FedNote: Seasonally adjusted.RECESSION
The industry’s recovery from a near-death experience is set to accelerate, too. Restaurant reservations exceeded precrisis levels for the first time in May, research from OpenTable shows.
And that’s likely to become the norm during the summer. Americans saved a lot of money during the pandemic and they’re flush with cash from federal stimulus payments. Surveys show more consumers plan to dine out in the months ahead as life returns to normal.
OpenTable, for its part, said its research suggests as many as one in four restaurants shuttered over the past year.
The devastation forced virtually every restaurant to slash payrolls, leaving many former restaurant workers on unemployment benefits or prodding them to find other jobs.
Now getting all those employees back could become another major headache. Even with sales surging, restaurants employ 1.48 million fewer people now than they did before the viral outbreak, government labor statistics show.
Many restaurant owners say they can’t find enough people to cook food or wait on customers. Some are increasing pay to try to lure them back, but others have had to scale back service for want of enough workers.
If there’s a silver lining, the crisis forced restaurants to learn how to get by with thinner staffs by adopting new practices or technologies to produce and deliver food.
As of May, restaurants employed 10.8 million people, down from 12.3 million before the pandemic. It could take awhile before employment reaches that level again.