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How Louisiana restaurants, bars, grocery stores, and other businesses have been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak

March 26, 2020

In this article:

  • How are sales at local restaurants, bars, lodging places, supermarkets, and sporting goods stores across Louisiana faring amid the COVID-19 outbreak?
  • We will also be drilling down and looking at the impact of businesses in the New Orleans area, specifically

Louisiana, and the New Orleans area, in particular, have been hit hard by the coronavirus. The first case of COVID-19 in the state was announced on March 9th, and since then, cases in Louisiana have been growing at an alarming rate. Experts agree that the most likely culprit for Louisiana’s severe outbreak was the surge of visitors around the world to New Orleans in late February during Mardi Gras.

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, supermarkets, entertainment venues, and more.

This report will examine exactly *how much* Louisiana and New Orleans businesses have been impacted as the area deals with a growing crisis.

About this report: The charts below automatically update every day. They show a daily view of average 2020 revenue for Louisiana 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 Louisiana is faring. 

Louisiana restaurants have been hit hard by COVID-19

The chart below shows all revenue for restaurants across the state of Louisiana each day of 2020 compared to the same time in 2019. As you can see, restaurants across the state were doing quite well to start the year.

LA restaurant sales, YTD

Mardi Gras was large enough for local restaurants in Louisiana to account for a 30% spike in revenue statewide. Sales dropped quickly after Mardi Gras was over, then rebounded close to 2019’s figures by the weekend of Friday, March 6th.

Sales quickly decline starting on March 9th, when the state announced its first confirmed case of the virus. By March 16th, when Louisiana Governor Jon Bel Edwards ordered all restaurants close to takeout only, sales had slid to a 37% decrease.

And by the 22nd, when Louisiana began its statewide stay-at-home order, sales had plummeted to a 64% drop compared to 2019.

Let’s take a closer look at restaurants in New Orleans.

New Orleans area restaurant sales, YTD

On Tuesday, February 25th, as millions of revelers from around the world flooded the streets of New Orleans for Mardi Gras, local restaurants enjoyed a 70% increase in revenue.

Unfortunately, that high point was short lived. After recovering from a typical post-Mardi Gras lull, New Orleans area restaurants saw sales drop to a 29% decrease on March 9th.

Sales declined slowly, as restaurants were initially allowed to stay open, but only seating 50% capacity.

On the 17th, when New Orleans restaurants closed all dine-in services, sales fell to 75% below 2019’s figures.

Bars in New Orleans have seen sales fall to almost zero

New Orleans is home to some of the busiest year-round bars in the entire country. And, as you’d expect, bars on Bourbon Street and beyond saw a huge impact on sales as the outbreak in the city began to spread.

Let’s take a closer look:

New Orleans area bar/lounge sales, YTD

New Orleans bars got a 150% lift during both the Monday and Tuesday of Mardi Gras. Again, sales dipped in the post-festivity hangover, but rebounded to well above 2019 levels by March 7th.

New Orleans bars appeared to be less impacted in the early days of the outbreak than restaurants were. On March 9th, the day that Louisiana announced its first confirmed case, bars did just as well as they had in 2019. Even as late as March 11th, bars in the Crescent City saw a 6% increase compared to 2019.

Sales dropped rapidly after that, however. On the 13th, the day Louisiana announced they were closing all schools, sales dropped to a 31% decrease. Then, in the wake of March 22nd’s shelter-in-place order, sales plummeted to a 94% decrease.

Louisiana hotels and motels are being crushed by cancellations and refunds

Hotels, motels, and other lodging places across the country have been hit hard by the coronavirus. Amidst travel restrictions and shelter in place orders, the travel industry is really taking it on the chin, and Louisiana is no exception.

LA lodging sales, YTD

Louisiana hotels and motels had a great start to 2020, experiencing early spikes in revenue in January, February, and of course, during Mardi Gras.

Once Louisiana began to announce an increasing number of confirmed cases, sales at lodging places around the state absolutely tanked.

By March 17th, revenue had dropped all the way down to a 122% decrease thanks to what appears to be a massive influx of refunds issued on that day by hotels and motels statewide.

The softening travel and tourism market has been even more brutal to New Orleans area hotels and motels.

New Orleans area lodging sales, YTD

Lodging places in the Crescent City had an excellent start to the year. Sales more than doubled during Mardi Gras, and still looked good by March 9th.

Again, though, the growing epidemic resulted in a surge of canceled trips and refund requests. From March 17th through the 21st, sales at New Orleans hotels and motels stayed below the 100% decrease threshold.

Louisiana supermarkets have seen a surge in sales

Of course, in times of crisis some businesses are decimated while others are overrun. And as Americans have been clearing out supermarkets and grocery stores in preparation for lockdowns and social isolation.

Here’s how things have shaken out so far at Louisiana grocery stores and supermarkets:

LA grocery sales, YTD

Louisiana grocery stores have been busy all year long, never once seeing revenue drop below 2019’s figures.

You can see a clear upward trend take place as the seriousness of Louisiana’s outbreak became clearer. Sales climbed to a 110% increase on March 13th, the day the Governor announced all schools would be closing.

Sales then skyrocketed even higher to a 184% increase on the 16th after officials ordered the closure of several types of businesses including movie theaters, fitness centers, and bars and restaurants (which were restricted to takeout only).

New Orleans area grocery stores followed a similar trend as those across the state.

New Orleans area grocery sales, YTD

Louisiana sporting goods and guns and ammo shops have also been slammed

The coronavirus outbreak has Louisianans stocking up on more than just toilet paper and groceries. Guns and ammo and sporting goods stores have also seen a massive surge in sales across the Pelican State.

LA sporting goods / guns and ammo sales, YTD

What started as a slow year for firearms and sporting goods stores turned around in a hurry starting on March 14th. From there, sales began a rapid climb to an impressive 133% increase on March 18th.

A hard road ahead in Louisiana

The coronavirus outbreak has been felt especially hard in the Pelican State, and especially in New Orleans. The virus has been spreading at a frightening rate as Louisianans remain under a “shelter-in-place” order in the hopes they can flatten the curve and slow the outbreak.

As a result, we expect to see local businesses in New Orleans and across Louisiana continue to face turbulent weeks and months ahead.

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 Louisiana and across the country to come back stronger than ever.

If you run a business, check out for free resources and access to no-interest, no-fee business capital with flexible repayment terms.

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