Tourism-Related Restaurant Sales Fall Short This Summer

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Operators reported their tourism-related sales this summer still were lower than pre-pandemic levels. Courtesy of National Restaurant Association.

With summer ending yesterday, the National Restaurant Association polled 4,000 restaurant owners and operators earlier this month to see how their tourism-related sales held up this summer. For most, they remained lower than pre-pandemic levels.

Before the pandemic, tourism-related sales made up a big chunk of sales for restaurants, according to research from the association. In the fine-dining segment, an average of 41% of sales came from travelers and visitors, but about a quarter of operators reported that demographic accounted for at least 60% of sales.

For the family dining, casual dining, and coffee-and-snack segments, about one-third of sales came from travelers and visitors pre-COVID, and for the quick-service and fast-casual segments, tourism sales made up about 25% of sales.

This summer, however, sales didn’t stack up. In the tourism-heavy fine-dining segment, 62% of operators said their sales from travelers and visitors from June through August were down from pre-pandemic levels. In the family dining, casual dining, quick-service and fast-casual segments, about 60% of operators reported lower sales.

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Operators aren’t expecting tourism sales to beat pre-pandemic levels this fall. Courtesy of National Restaurant Association.

Heading into fall, the association reported that restaurant operators are “decidedly pessimistic” about tourism-related sales this season. More than 70% of operators in the fine dining, casual dining, family dining and fast-casual segments expect their sales to be lower than pre-pandemic levels, while only 1 in 20 operators anticipate higher sales.

A “solid majority” of quick-service and coffee-and-snack segment operators also anticipate lower sales.

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