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It will take awhile for the restaurant industry to completely recover from the year that wreaked havoc on sales.

Restaurant sales poised to climb 10.2% in 2021; but it won’t be enough to climb out of the COVID-19 hole yet, National Restaurant Association says

The National Restaurant Association’s annual State of the Industry report points to 2021 as a year of transition and rebuilding

From 2019 to 2020, COVID-19 impacted the restaurant industry in catastrophic terms, with sales plummeting 19.2%. According to the National Restaurant Association’s State of the Industry Report, 2021 sales are projected to climb 10.2%, though not nearly enough to recover from the steep hole caused by the pandemic.

This will be the “year of transition and rebuilding,” Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the research and knowledge group with the National Restaurant Association said, and it will take time before the industry gets back to pre-pandemic levels. Last year ended with sales $240 billion below the forecasted levels, with approximately 110,000 foodservice establishments permanently closed (and nearly three-quarters of those operators saying they would not open another restaurant).

“On a positive note, 2021 will be better than 2020 and for most [restaurant segments] the operational trend is advancing, not retreating,” Riehle told Nation’s Restaurant News. With 2020 being the worst year in restaurant industry history it will take some time to get back to pre-pandemic levels across a variety of operating parameters.”

Despite the grim numbers, pent-up consumer demand will create a mad rush once things get back to normal. In April 2020, the number of adults who said they don’t offer takeout as much as they’d like rose from 44 to 52%, though by December 2020, that number had settled down to 33%. In April, 83% of adults surveyed said they were not eating out as much as they’d like, nearly twice as many people (45%) who were asked the same question in January 2020.

Read more about the NRA’s State of the Industry Report here: Restaurant sales projected to climb 10.2% in 2021, but not enough to recover from devastation of COVID-19, National Restaurant Association says.

Contact Joanna Fantozzi at joanna.fantozzi@informa.com

Follow her on Twitter: @JoannaFantozzi

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