How much did the coronavirus hurt restaurant sales on Mother’s Day?

Restaurants, like most small businesses across the country, have been hit hard by the coronavirus. Our research has revealed not just huge drops in revenue, but that many restaurants have stopped transacting altogether.

And despite several states easing restrictions on restaurants and “opening up” in early May, restaurants are still clearly struggling.

Under normal circumstances, restaurants would look to Mother’s Day weekend as a huge opportunity to turn around lagging sales and pack the dining room. Year after year, Mother’s Day weekend is responsible for the top days of the year for local restaurants across the country.

According to our State of Local Restaurants report, the Saturday before Mother’s Day 2019 saw more total dollars spent at restaurants nationwide than any other day of the year. Mother’s Day 2019 was the second biggest day.

So, did Mother’s Day 2020 result in a change of fortune for struggling restaurants? Or did Americans forgo dine in and takeout and choose instead to celebrate Mom from home?

We dug into the data to find out.

How did Mother’s Day 2020 compare to Mother’s Day 2019 for restaurants?

Let’s start by comparing this year’s Mother’s Day to last year, when Mother’s Day was the #2 total revenue day of the year for restaurants. Before we dive into the figures, here’s a quick explanation of how we’ll be examining the impact on restaurants in this report:

  • Total consumer spending: This is a view of total revenue for all restaurants. In other words, how many dollars were spent at restaurants on any given day.
  • Average revenue per restaurant: This is a view of how much was spent at those restaurants that are actually open and doing business on a given day.

This is an important distinction to make as during Mother’s Day 2020, nearly 30% of all restaurants in our analysis were closed.

With that in mind, here’s how Mother’s Day 2020 compared to Mother’s Day 2019:

As you might have expected, Mother’s Day weekend this year represented a staggering drop in revenue compared to 2019. Total consumer spending at restaurants was down 69%-72% compared to the 2019.

The drop was smaller, but no less significant, among those restaurants who were still open for business on Mother’s Day weekend. Average revenue among restaurants who were open for business (be it takeout only, or dine-in and takeout combined) was still down over 40% compared to 2019.

Was Mother’s Day weekend a “rebound” for sales at restaurants across the U.S.?

Clearly Mother’s Day 2020 fell far behind Mother’s Day 2019. But did the holiday end up driving extra sales at restaurants?

Let’s start with a look at the year-over-year trend for weekend revenue restaurants from the start of the year through Mother’s Day weekend.

As our previous reports have shown, total consumer spending and average revenue at open restaurants fell off a cliff in mid-March. Average revenue at those restaurants who have been able to stay open, however, has been slowly climbing upward each weekend since March 21st – 22nd.

As a result, Mother’s Day weekend was a high point for restaurants since the beginning of the outbreak.

Let’s take a closer look at how the weekend compared to 2020, as opposed to how it compared to 2019.

Total consumer spending:

As you can see, Mother’s Day represented a huge rebound in total consumer spending for restaurants compared to the average Sunday since the coronavirus outbreak. It also represented a significant bounce from even just the previous Sunday, suggesting that more people ventured out to spend money at restaurants on Mother’s Day than they would have if not for the holiday.

Average revenue at open restaurants:

Now let’s take a look at how those restaurants that were actually open and transacting fared.

While Revenue at open restaurants on Mother’s Day was still far behind what they averaged in 2019, it was clearly a big day in what has otherwise been an extremely difficult year. Average revenue was up 9% over the average day in 2020 on Mother’s Day, and it was nearly double what restaurants had been earning on Sundays since mid-March.

Were there any states where restaurants were as busy on Mother’s Day 2020 as Mother’s Day 2019?

Some states have been more (or less) aggressive in the policies and restrictions put in place to combat the spread of the coronavirus. As such, you’d expect some states to have a much bigger Mother’s Day than others. Let’s examine how restaurants in each state fared on Mother’s Day 2020 vs Mother’s Day 2019.

Total consumer spending Mother’s Day 2020 vs Mother’s Day 2019

Total consumer spending at restaurants on Mother’s Day was down in every single state. Oklahoma saw the smallest drop, at a still significant 42% less than 2019. Several states, meanwhile, saw total consumer spending down over 80% year over year.

Let’s now examine those restaurants who managed to remain open on Mother’s Day 2020.

Average revenue at open restaurants on Mother’s Day 2020 vs Mother’s Day 2019

As you’d expect, average revenue at open and transacting restaurants was down somewhat less than total spending. But still, not one state saw the average open restaurant do better than in 2019.

Oklahoma came closest, with the average restaurant only doing 12% less revenue on Mother’s Day than in 2019. Restaurants in California, meanwhile, saw the biggest year-over-year drop in the country, with a 57% decrease in average revenue.

Which states saw the biggest increase in revenue on Mother’s Day compared to the average Sunday since mid-March?

Eateries across the United States have seen sales fall off a cliff since around March 16th. And no matter how aggressive or lax the approach in a given state, local restaurants have seen consistently low sales ever since.

But, as we also showed in our charts above, restaurants who were open and transacting on Mother’s Day saw a huge increase in revenue compared to the average Sunday since the outbreak began.

Here’s how that figure looks at a state-by-state level:

As you can see, every state in our analysis experienced an increase in revenue on Mother’s Day compared to the average Sunday since the outbreak began.

South Carolina, Mississippi, and Oklahoma all saw over 150% increases in average revenue, while a significant number of states saw revenue more than double what they’d experienced recently.

While these are welcome figures for restaurant owners across the country, our research also shows that this is far from a “return to normal.”

While Mother’s Day 2020 represented a significant “bounce back” in average revenue among open and transacting restaurants, there’s still a long way to go before restaurants see figures returning to 2019 levels.

Interested in more reports like this one?

Check out additional reports on the impact of COVID-19 on local businesses:

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