Published: December 2021
Authors: Gizem Templeton, Helen Vilme
The COVID-19 pandemic affected industries where indoor person-to-person contact is the norm. This study documents the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic-related government restrictions on the Durham, North Carolina restaurant industry by late summer of 2020. Sixty-four restaurant businesses in Durham, North Carolina participated in the survey between June-September 2020. Participating restaurants were mainly locally-owned businesses. The survey captured the type of restaurants (e.g. range of annual sales, ownership, etc.); the impact of COVID-19 on sales, employees, supply chains, support needed by the restaurant industry; and additional commentary in order to give space to elaborate.
- More than 70% of the surveyed Durham restaurants lost at least half of their typical revenue by the end of summer 2020.
- A majority (71%) of restaurants had to lay off employees, and 87% had to reduce employee hours.
- Despite the COVID-19 health crisis, 70% of restaurant owners could not or did not provide paid sick leave to their employees.
- Supply chain disruptions affected 87% of the restaurants. Durham restaurants reported experiencing low supply and delays in delivery of many foodstuffs, such as beef, chicken, cheese, and fish, as well as an increase in prices.
- Restaurant owners voiced their need for financial support (rent abatement, payroll support, and loan forgiveness) as well as different modes of governmental involvement; some wanted additional guidance and supervision, while others preferred no government interference.
- Respondents reported that if the economic situation continued in the same way for more than one year (25%), more than six months (53%) or more than a couple months (22%) – they would not be able to keep their business from permanently closing–despite the availability of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) resources
This was a cross-sectional study and by its nature only able to capture the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Durham restaurant industry at a point in time. Further studies are needed to show the level of revenue, employment, business loss; as well as the resilience of the industry at the late stages of the pandemic and beyond.