New research shows Georgia restaurant operators anticipate adding more employees to payroll in June


Just five months ago, Georgia's restaurant industry looked a lot different than it does today: restaurant and foodservice jobs made up 15% of employment in the state, restaurants were estimated to contribute $24.9 billion to Georgia’s economy in 2020 alone, and there were nearly 19,000 eating and drinking place locations across the state.

The Georgia restaurant community has been devastated by the economic fallout caused by the coronavirus pandemic. According to a May 2020 survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association, among Georgia restaurant operators that haven’t closed permanently, 84 percent say they have laid off or furloughed employees since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in March.

Among these restaurant operators that laid off or furloughed employees, the average reduction was 80 percent of the restaurant’s total staff.

Sixty-eight percent of operators who laid off or furloughed staff say they have rehired some of these employees in recent days or weeks. On average, these operators rehired 48 percent of the employees that were laid off or furloughed.

Looking ahead, and on a more positive note, 59 percent of operators say they anticipate adding more employees to payroll within the next 30 days.

Consumer spending in restaurants remained significantly dampened in May. Among Georgia restaurant operators that haven’t closed permanently, 98 percent say their total dollar sales volume during the period from May 1 to May 15 was lower than it was during the same period in 2019.

On average, Georgia restaurant operators reported a 71 percent decline in sales during the period from May 1 to May 15.

Only a small proportion of restaurant operators reported that their business improved somewhat from April. Among restaurant operators that are open for business in any capacity, 29 percent say their sales increased between the last two weeks in April and the first two weeks in May.

A strong majority of Georgia restaurant operators are not optimistic that their business will return to normal any time soon. Seventy-three percent of restaurant operators say it is unlikely that their restaurant will be profitable within the next six months, under the assumption that there will be no additional relief packages from the federal government.