Here are some Sobering Statistics from September 2020.
So much has changed for all of us in the last six months. It is time to take a look at the raw numbers of our industry and how we are all being affected.
To be sure, restaurants are taking the virus seriously. We are cleaning, sanitizing, social distancing, following the CSP’s and wearing masks. The safety of our employees and customers has been and always will be our top priority in restaurants. All of us have pulled together.
Unfortunately, the economics are not in our favor. According to the New Mexico Economic Development Department’s quarterly summary, the accommodation and food service industries have lost $574 million since January. This is a 31% decrease from 2019.
The leisure and hospitality industries continue to report the heaviest employment losses in the state, with a drop of 25,200 jobs—that is a 24 percent decrease from last year. It’s heartbreaking. Our employees are like our family. The hardest thing we have had to do throughout this disaster is layoff our employees. These layoffs don’t just affect our workers. They affect their families that need their support, and they affect the New Mexico economy with each and every unemployment check.
A national survey of restaurant owners shows that we stand to lose one third of our restaurants by the end of the year. That’s 1,155 New Mexico Restaurants. It’s heartbreaking to see life-long restaurateurs like Edna and Rudy Ortega of Ortega’s in Albuquerque walk away from their business of 30 years through no fault of their own. This virus takes no prisoners. There are far too many stories like the Ortega’s to even begin to share them here.
Despite meeting many of the (ever moving) gating criteria, NM continues to have some of the most economically restrictive policies during this pandemic. New Mexico is surrounded by states with indoor dining capacities much more generous than NM.
At this time NM only has a COVID policy with an intermittent economic policy. Like a restaurant, you can’t succeed and grow, much less survive, without an economic plan. We need to know what is going to happen next, and it has to happen fast. Economic assistance and safeguards need to be a part of our State’s plan if our industry will ever be able to “come back”.
We are not in tune with the rest of the country. Before moving our indoor dining capacity to 25%, only two other states were closed. These states, New Jersey and California, have a much more robust economy to begin with and a better chance for recovery. As it stands now, only 4 other states are at a 25% capacity for indoor dining at this time. If you look at the remaining 46 states, ALL are open to at least 50% capacity, with half of those being open at full capacity.
According to a recent survey of New Mexico restaurants, 54% reported sales being down from 20 to 70%. 16% of restaurants noted sales down over 70%.
Most restaurants reported that they were only able to accommodate 30% of the previous year’s customers due to social distancing and restrictions.
This means that one-third of restaurants only have 3 to 6 Months until they will have to permanently close, and another 30 percent would have to permanently close before that. Staffing continues to be a major problem. Catering and being able to host large parties is particularly hurting some restaurants.
Where does that leave us? Survival on 25% capacity is near impossible. Increased costs as a result of the pandemic have hit all of us hard. 78% of restaurants strongly agree that NMRA should be pressing the Governor to allow restaurants to open at greater capacity.
We are listening to this feedback. We have asked, through channels, that the Governor open restaurants at 50%. We are doing our part by offering that with this increase, restaurants will close at 10:00 pm and we will support that all restaurants will need to get the NM Safe Certified Training.
What can YOU do?
Follow the CSPs. Wear your mask. Contact the Governor to let her know you and your family are ready and willing to get back to our dining rooms.
Support the restaurants in your area NOW at this reduced capacity so that they can survive long enough to have hope that our state leaders will increase capacity to 50% sooner rather than later.