Nationally, it was just as bad. Restaurants around the country were facing a similar situation. For many, society’s closure would be their business’ death blow.
“During the first 12 months of the pandemic, total restaurant and foodservice sales were down $270 billion from expected levels,” said Bruce Grindy, the chief economist for the National Restaurant Association. “This includes the sales shortfall at eating and drinking places, plus a sharp reduction in spending at foodservice operations in sectors such as lodging.”
Association figures showed restaurants across the country lost about $80 billion in sales in March and April alone. For 2020, sales were down $240 billion from expected levels.
Grindy’s figures show that before the pandemic, an average of 59% of adults went out for a sit-down dinner each week. A year later, 37% keep up the habit.
There was a small bright spot, Grindy noted. While an average 58% of adults purchased takeout or delivery for dinner each week before COVID-19, 64% were doing so this month. Still, Virginia saw a loss of more than 57,000 restaurant jobs during the pandemic year, an 18.9% drop in employment.
Despite losing major income sources, White said she got by with a little help from her friends.
“The landlord did work with me and I appreciate that,” she said. “My catering customers were amazing. I cater for several schools and programs and they shut down, so they didn’t need me, but they didn’t just go away. They thought about me and called to check on me and kept me in the loop about when they might reopen. They told me that I’d have a contract when they did. I felt like I was more than just a vendor.”