The Avero Index makes keeping up with national restaurant sales trends easy. We track restaurant sales by region, based on data we pull directly from thousands of POS systems. This page is a permanent home for the Avero Index, which we keep updated every week. Viewing the index can help you gauge the performance of the restaurant industry and compare your own performance. Read on for the latest update.
MARCH 1-14: ONE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF COVID-SHUTDOWN BRINGS PROMISE OF HIGHER RESTAURANT SALES
Index at a Glance
- All Avero Index: Sales down 31% YoY, open units down 36% YoY
- Midwest: Sales down 25% YoY, open units down 30% YoY
- Northeast: Sales down 30% YoY, open units down 43% YoY
- South: Sales down 17% YoY, open units down 36% YoY
- West: Sales down 40% YoY, open units down 34% YoY
National Restaurant Performance
Last week’s Avero Index shows restaurant sales at their healthiest level in a full year. This week marks the one-year anniversary of the nationwide closure of restaurants in response to the growing Covid-19 global pandemic.
Looking back, we see that restaurant sales in the first week of March 2020 were down slightly. The 15% drop marked on the Index raised eyebrows but wasn’t cause for much concern since we knew some of our international hotel partners were closed in the Asia-Pacific region. There had been talk in news headlines and on social media about the coronavirus outbreak spreading from China to Europe. People were wondering whether and when it might affect the US. Aside from stockpiling toilet paper people generally went about their business.
In the first week of March 2020, domestic restaurant sales were only down 6-10%. Again, slightly concerning, but not necessarily alarming. It wasn’t until the second week, March 9-15, that national restaurant sales fell 40%. By March 22, they had fallen 91%.
Fast forward one year. The first week of March 2021 shows sales 52% below normal—the highest they’ve been since last year. The second week of March 2021 officially marks the beginning of the second year of Covid restrictions.
Since March 2020, the Index has been comparing restaurant sales to pre-pandemic sales levels. This has made it easy to understand the losses restaurants are experiencing compared to their “normal” performance.
Starting last week and going forward, the Index will compare current restaurant performance with the terrible post-Covid performance of 2020. As such, the numbers look different, and will throughout the remainder of the year.
For last week, the Index shows that sales are only down 31% compared to 2020. We predict this will be the last week showing losses for quite some time since 2020 losses remained in the 90’s through May. Restaurants that survived the past year are operating at 50% or greater capacity and stand to increase their capacity soon.
For the next month at least it’s likely restaurants will still be underperforming compared to their “normal” levels. But the Index will show impressive gains over 2020’s performance. If President Biden’s prediction that vaccines will be available to the general public in May holds true, we can expect to see an even more robust recovery this summer.
Regional Restaurant Performance
The Avero Index is evolving in 2021 on unit counts as well. The percentage of open units has been fairly steady since the fall of 2020, fluctuating by a few points at most week-to-week. Most regions have consistently shown open units down between 30-40%, except the Northeast which has been hit the hardest by restaurant restrictions and closures.
Being one-year into the pandemic, we think it’s safe (albeit sad) to consider the percentage of unopened units that remains as permanently lost. We knew from the start of the pandemic that a portion of restaurants would not be able to survive the rollercoaster of restrictions and closures. Looking at the percentage of open units as listed on the Avero Index at the one-year mark is likely as good a figure as we’ll get regarding permanent closures.
Based on Avero Index data, the Midwest permanently lost the smallest percentage of units. Last week, the number of open units was 30% below normal, meaning, 30% of the units that were operating in pre-Covid 2020 are permanently closed. The Western region sits in the middle with open units 36% below normal. The number of open units in the South is down 34%. The Northeast has the highest number of unopened units. For last week, the Index shows the number of open units was 43% below normal.
It is heartbreaking to think about the raw numbers those percentages represent. Those numbers represent real restaurant owners, operators, and staff who never returned to work, lost their livelihoods, watched their dreams crumble. Our hearts go out to them and we can only hope to see their future reincarnation in better times.
February 15-28: Rising sales, shrinking infections and fewer restrictions bring hope to restaurants
Index at a Glance
- All Avero Index: Sales up 3%, open units up 1%
- Midwest: Sales up 5%, no change in open units
- Northeast: Sales up 4%, open units up 1%
- South: Sales up 5%, open units up 1%
- West: Sales up 4%, no change in open units
National Restaurant Performance
Restaurant sales across the US grew once again in the second half of February. Sales are up 3% from two weeks ago. The month of February closed 10 points higher than levels reached in January. The percentage of open units is two points higher as well.
Steady gains in the restaurant industry are a most welcome sight. With the peak of the winter pandemic firmly behind us, falling Covid-19 infection rates across the country, and warmer weather taking hold, we’re more optimistic about the path forward than we’ve been since the start of the pandemic.
NPR reports that new infections have fallen nearly 70% in the past six weeks. Hospitalizations have fallen close to 60% since the peak in January, and the national test positivity rate has fallen from 13% to less than 5% currently. By all accounts, the trend is overwhelmingly positive.
Regional Restaurant Performance
Sales gains were spread out evenly amongst the regions for the second half of February. The Midwest and South saw a 5% increase in restaurant sales. The percentage of open units rose 1% in the South. There was no change in the percentage of open units in the Midwest.
Sales rose 4% in both the Northeast and the West. Open units grew 1% in the Northeast, and there was no change in units in the West.
The intense winter storm that hit Texas on Valentine’s Day slammed restaurants in the area with more hardships. The rolling power blackouts left millions of Texans without power or heat for days. Freezing temperatures and the lack of potable water made it impossible for many restaurants to open for several days. In addition to losing lucrative Valentine’s dinner revenue, restaurants also bear the costs of food spoilage, flooding due to broken pipes, and skyrocketing utility rates.
Last week, Texas made headlines yet again when Governor Greg Abbott announced plans to lift all Covid-related business restrictions and the state’s mask-mandate on March 10. The state left a caveat in place that in regions where Covid hospitalizations rise above 15% of total hospitalizations over a 7-day period may implement mitigation strategies including masks and dining capacity restrictions.
The move was met with disapproval from the CDC due to the increase in more aggressive virus variants and the slow progress of the vaccine program. Only about 6% of Texans are currently vaccinated and hospitality workers are not being prioritized as they are in many other states.
Still, many restaurants rejoiced at the opportunity to resume full capacity indoor dining. Operating with no restrictions gives many hope for recovering lost revenue from the pandemic at large, and the recent winter storm specifically.
Mississippi also announced the end of Covid-related restrictions. Like Texas, Mississippi is also seeing a rise in the number of new infections in the state, though levels remain far below the January peak. According to this USA Today map, infections are on the rise in many states including Colorado, Maine, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Minnesota and Arkansas. But infection rates are down in the majority of states.
Reopening plans are on hold in Washington, Wisconsin, Indiana, Alabama, and Georgia. West Virginia is currently tightening restrictions. All the remaining states are in the process of or have plans to ease Covid restrictions.
Falling infection rates, accelerating reopening plans, and warmer temperatures are finally coming to fruition. For our beloved hospitality industry, hope springs eternal.