Restaurant Reopenings Elicit Varied Responses and Challenges

2020 purchasing data reveals that some U.S. restaurants are seeing large jumps in sales.
2020 purchasing data reveals that some U.S. restaurants are seeing large jumps in sales.

May 26, 2020 — As restaurants slowly begin to reopen in areas in the United States, Australia and Canada, some are beginning to see the return of sales and a return to some semblance of normalcy. The lifting of restrictions in much of the United States, most states and territories in Australia, and some Canadian provinces has caused the public to slowly begin to return to their usual purchasing behaviors. Some restaurants that are open are beginning to see more customers come through their doors and as a result, see an increase in sales that hasn’t been seen since the beginning of the pandemic shutdowns back in March. On the other hand, some restaurants are still struggling to get customers through the door — and some are refusing to reopen despite the ability to do so.

The United States

According to 2020 purchasing data of over 30,000 restaurants, sales have risen 46.6% nationwide. These sales numbers are up 32% from the week of March 22nd. The states that are seeing the biggest increases in sales are Montana (241%), Oklahoma (176%), Arkansas (153%), Tennessee (149%) and Wyoming (130%).

Unfortunately, not all states are seeing a healthy increase in sales despite their reopenings. For example, restaurants in New Mexico, Rhode Island and West Virginia are still at low points in their sales. New York, Maine and Minnesota are only seeing a sales increase of 7.1%, 3.5% and 9.7% respectively. The data illustrates that not all states and not all food businesses will see a quick rebound with reopenings.


Australia has done remarkably well in its collective effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the number of new infections in the country to near zero. All states and territories have been permitted to reopen food businesses but with restrictions (except for Victoria which will be able to do so on June 1). However, food businesses are citing challenges with the restrictions and rules they must abide by. Most of the Australian states and territories are currently in phase 1 of reopening, which means that there is a maximum of 10 customers allowed within the premises. Some food businesses are publicly sharing their struggles with this restriction, especially when no one shows up for a group reservation, effectively leaving the premises mostly empty. It is anticipated that as states and territories move into phase 2 and 3, that revenue will increase with the ability to allow more patrons within the business.


In Canada, the easing of restrictions in provinces like British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and New Brunswick is seeing restaurants and pubs beginning to open their doors to the public. However, despite these reopenings, it appears that Canadians businesses are a bit more hesitant to reopen their doors right away. Some food business owners are simply choosing to not open at this time.

Owners have stated they are still wary of the threat of COVID-19 despite their province giving them the green light to reopen. Others state that they simply need more time to prepare the business premises to meet with provincial requirements for reopening. Acquiring adequate personal protective equipment such as masks, and installing plexiglass barriers and floor markings all take time. While others don’t find it economically feasible to open with the restrictions in place. What restaurant revenues will look like after reopening should become evident in the next few weeks, as more businesses are comfortable and ready to open to the public.