With the U.S. economy suffering severely amid the coronavirus outbreak, the Senate has passed a $2.2 trillion aid bill which is the largest economic stimulus in American history. Financial support will be provided for small businesses while most adults will receive direct payments of $1,200. As the number of Americans on full or partial lockdown increased in line with infections over the past two to three weeks, the restaurant trade was one of the sectors quickest and worst hit.
Using data from online restaurant-reservation service OpenTable, it is possible to visualize the downward trend and show why small business owners desperately need all the financial help they can get. The company has a global network of approximately 60,000 restaurants and its data is broadly representative of the industry as a whole. Restaurants were still trading relatively normally up until the end of March before the pandemic made its impact felt and the number of seated diners plummeted compared to the same days in 2019.
Most establishments in the major cities of Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco had lost 100 percent of their business by March 17 with many switching to takeout or providing delivery services in a bid to remain afloat. People stuck at home are now being urged to go out and support their local restaurants if they provide takeout and collective efforts to establish social media campaigns have gained traction over the last couple of days.