How coronavirus is impacting local restaurants, supermarkets and other businesses across the state of Washington

In this article:

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

On January 21st, 2020, the CDC announced its confirmed case of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the state of Washington. Since then, Washington has become a hotbed, of sorts, with the highest number of confirmed cases per capita of any state in the country.

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 report examines exactly *how big* the impact of these measures, and the problems the coronavirus has had on businesses in Washington, and in the Seattle area in particular.

About this report: The charts below automatically update every day. They show a daily view of average 2020 revenue for Washington 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 is faring both in Seattle and the entire state of Washington. 

Washington restaurants have been hurt by COVID-19 since late February

Restaurants in Washington actually started the year with somewhat slow sales, but sales picked up in early February. (The large spike you see has to do with when Valentine’s Day weekend fell in 2020 compared to 2019).

Everything changed rapidly as February came to a close. By February 29th, when Washington health officials announced that first death from COVID-19 in the U.S. was a man in Washington, sales were down nearly 10%.

WA 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.

As you can see, sales only continued to drop statewide as the month of March progressed and the situation grew more serious. On March 15th, Governor Jay Inslee announced the closing of all dine-in restaurants in the state of Washington, and as you can see, sales quickly plummeted down to a 60% drop by March 17th.

The impact is even more dramatic in King County, where the outbreak has been the most pronounced.

King County 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.

Restaurants in and around the Seattle area were seeing close to 2019’s average revenue numbers for most of the year. Then on February 29th, sales plummeted to 21% below 2019’s averages.

Starting the week of Monday, March 6th, daily restaurant revenue had tumbled has remained around 70% lower than the same time in 2019.

Washington bars have been hit even harder

Sales at bars in Washington started the year slow (perhaps as locals got more serious about Dry January than they did last year), but things were actually looking up in February.

Like with restaurants, though, as the the COVID-19 situation in Washington grew more serious, bars began to see fewer customers in their doors.

WA 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.

Bars were also ordered to close on March 15th, prompting a rapid drop in sales.

Bars in King County followed a very similar, if not more dramatic trend than those across the state.

King County 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.

By March 3rd, sales at bars in King County had dropped to 17% below 2019’s figures, and had already dropped to 42% below 2019 by Friday, March 13th. The following week, after all bars were ordered closed to take-out only, sales fell off a cliff.

Washington hotels and motels have been hit hard

January through March don’t necessarily represent the seasonal peak for Washington hotels and motels, but there’s no question coronavirus is having a major negative impact on that industry across the state.

WA 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.

Average revenue at Washington hotels and motels have been in a free fall since March 6th, seeing daily revenue decrease by as much as 80% or more.

The picture is even more dire in King County. After a spiky, but mostly healthy start to the year, revenue has plummeted at Seattle area hotels and motels.

King County 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.

Supermarkets in Washington have seen increased revenue as locals start to stock up

Of course, in times of crisis some businesses are decimated while others are overrun. Supermarkets and grocery stores in King County have seen sales increase as people rush to stock up and prepare for potential self-quarantining.

King County 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.

Tough times likely to get tougher across the Evergreen State

Washington has, thus far, been hit harder by the coronavirus than any other state in the U.S. The state has already implemented several major steps to attempt to contain and mitigate the virus, but local businesses across the state, and in King County in particular, are likely to continue to struggle.

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 Washington and across the country to weather the storm. 

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