The impact of COVID-19 on New York businesses like restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues

In this article:

  • How are sales at local restaurants, bars, lodging places, retail shops, and supermarkets across New York faring amid the COVID-19 outbreak?
  • We drill down and look at revenue for the same business types in New York City, as well.

In early March, confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) started popping up in New York. Since then, COVID-19 has become a national health and economic crisis, leading to a global public health emergency and the biggest economic turmoil since the Great Recession of 2008-2009. 

The Womply Research team has been analyzing revenue trends at millions of small, local businesses across the country. We’re trying to size up the COVID-19 crisis’ impact on local businesses like restaurants, retail shops, lodging places, salons, entertainment venues, and more. 

This article outlines exactly *how big* the impact is for New York businesses.

About this report: The charts below automatically update every day. They show a daily view of average 2020 revenue for New York businesses in a particular category compared to the closest day of the week in 2019. 

Check back regularly to see how the local business economy in New York is faring. 

New York restaurants are getting hit hard by COVID-19

When the National Basketball Association postponed its season on March 11, it set in motion a rolling shutdown of multiple industries. New York restaurants immediately felt the pain, with growing losses in the days following. 

NY restaurant sales, YTD

This chart includes only data from restaurants that are still open and transacting. Each day represents a comparison of average daily revenue at open restaurants vs. a comparable day in 2019.

By midway through the week of Monday, March 16th, as the situation in New York grew more dire, sales had dropped all the way to 65% below 2019’s figures. By Sunday the 22nd, that number had dropped even further to a 76% decrease.

The downward trend is similar in New York City. Notice how the dip accelerates around the events of mid-March.

New York City restaurant sales, YTD

This chart includes only data from restaurants that are still open and transacting. Each day represents a comparison of average daily revenue at open restaurants vs. a comparable day in 2019.

The weekend of March 21-22 was particularly brutal for restaurants in the city, with sales dropping to an 80% decrease.

New York bars are getting hammered, too

The trendline for sales at New York bars is similar to restaurants, with a nosedive in year-over-year revenue starting around March 12.

NY bar/lounge sales, YTD

This chart includes only data from bars that are still open and transacting. Each day represents a comparison of average daily revenue at open bars vs. a comparable day in 2019.

The story is much more severe for bars in Manhattan, Queens, Long Island, and the Bronx. Even before NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio shut down in-person bar patronage on March 15, the city’s bars and lounges were really taking it on the chin as more people opted to stay home. 

Things *really* turned south on March 15. 

New York City bar/lounge sales, YTD

This chart includes only data from bars that are still open and transacting. Each day represents a comparison of average daily revenue at open bars vs. a comparable day in 2019.

Revenue did bounce back up to 26% below 2019’s figures on St. Patrick’s Day, even though all New York City bars were restricted to takeout orders only. This suggests that at least a handful of New Yorkers decided to grab takeout on St. Patrick’s Day. However, a 29% decrease compared to a regular Tuesday in 2019 proves it was a painful St. Paddy’s Day in New York.

Things didn’t get any better from there, either. By Sunday, March 22nd, with the city in effective lockdown, revenue had plummeted to a 94% decrease.

Note: our research has shown that over 60% of bars have closed their doors or stopped transacting entirely. The chart above compares average revenue at bars that are still open and transacting. So each data point does not reflect the revenue impact on the ~60% of bars that were closed or not transacting at all.

New York hotels and motels went into free-fall in March

Fears of COVID-19 spreading have taken a historic toll on the travel and entertainment industry, and lodging places in New York state are no exception. Here again, sales started a precipitous drop around the events of March 11 and 12. Since then, revenue has remained more than 80% below 2019’s figures.

NY lodging sales, YTD

This chart includes only data from lodging places that are still open and transacting. Each day represents a comparison of average daily revenue at open lodging places vs. a comparable day in 2019.

The softening travel and tourism market has been especially brutal to New York City. Take a look at the mounting losses in one of the world’s top travel destinations. 

New York City lodging sales, YTD

This chart includes only data from lodging places that are still open and transacting. Each day represents a comparison of average daily revenue at open lodging places vs. a comparable day in 2019.

Social distancing is taking a toll on New York’s arts and entertainment industry

Arts and entertainment is especially influential in New York, and contributes to the city’s disproportionate impact on the Empire State economy. Given the guidance around “social distancing,” it’s not surprising that the state’s arts and entertainment businesses have seen significant revenue erosion throughout 2020. 

NY arts/entertainment sales, YTD

This chart includes only data from arts and entertainment businesses that are still open and transacting. Each day represents a comparison of average daily revenue at open arts and entertainment businesses vs. a comparable day in 2019.

Note: the spike in revenue on April 1st, is likely due to several sports and entertainment businesses in our analysis processing monthly invoices on the 1st of each month. In order for us to effectively compare year-over-year transactions, we match each date in 2020 with a 2019 date from the same day of the week. As a result, Wed, April 1, 2020 was much larger than Wed, April 3, 2019.

Now let’s look at New York City, where arts and entertainment venues have been limping along since January on a year-over-year basis. Tightening travel guidance and orders to limit in-person contact contribute to growing losses in March. 

New York City arts/entertainment sales, YTD

This chart includes only data from arts and entertainment businesses that are still open and transacting. Each day represents a comparison of average daily revenue at open arts and entertainment businesses vs. a comparable day in 2019.

Supermarkets are a bright spot

Of course, in times of crisis some businesses are decimated while others are overrun. Supermarkets and grocery stores in New York have seen consistent year-over-year gains in 2020 as people stock up against potential long-term isolation scenarios. 

NY state grocery sales, YTD

This chart includes only data from grocery stores that are still open and transacting. Each day represents a comparison of average daily revenue at open grocery stores vs. a comparable day in 2019.

Sales started to rise in early March, spiking all the way up to a 111% increase on March 14th, and topping out at a 128% increase on the 16th.

It’s a similar story for grocery stores and supermarkets in New York City.

New York City grocery sales, YTD

This chart includes only data from grocery stores that are still open and transacting. Each day represents a comparison of average daily revenue at open grocery stores vs. a comparable day in 2019.

Sales increased dramatically in mid-March as New York, and the country at large, began to take the virus much more seriously. The biggest increase came on March 12th, as Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio began to announce closures of school districts, Broadway theatres, and restrictions on local restaurants.

A quiet time for the city that never sleeps

New York City is a global hub for arts, entertainment, culture, and food. As the COVID-19 virus spreads and global leaders work to contain it, small businesses in the Empire State and its largest city will continue to feel the financial repercussions. 

We will update the data in this post on a daily basis and add analysis as the story changes. In the meantime, we’re rooting for local businesses in New York and across the country to weather the storm. 

Visit our COVID-19 research and resources page for more reports on the impact of coronavirus on local businesses

If you own a small business that is struggling, Womply can help!

Womply has partnered with various trusted lenders to offer you the best possible rates on small business funding. Whether you need a term loan, a line of credit, or another type of small business capital, we can help!

Click here to check out our small business loans resources, or schedule a free, personalized demo of Womply’s small business apps to learn more!

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