COVID-19 Impact: 17% of Restaurant Sales Dependent on Most At-Risk Adults

Several U.S. states and cities have announced blanket closures of bars and restaurants for dine-in service to avoid crowded spaces where COVID-19 will have the opportunity to rapidly spread. As this may significantly slow restaurant sales, not all sales will come to a complete halt, as most have been allowed to continue their drive-thru, takeout and delivery operations. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have identified older adults as one of the most at-risk age demographics in terms of the severity of symptoms. For restaurants that will continue with limited operations, ArrowStream economists analyzed the restaurant industry’s age demographics to further provide analysis on what we may expect in the upcoming week(s). 

“Restaurant industry traffic is vulnerable to the coronavirus, especially the older U.S. population. And according to our friends at Technomic, those aged 65 years and above make up a significant portion of the restaurant industry traffic, at 19 percent in 2019. Add to this the 55-64 age group and it accounts for more than one third of restaurant industry traffic.”


2019 Age Demographics for US Restaurant Industry


A further look at restaurant segments reveals that family dining is the segment most susceptible, where 39.1 percent of their patrons are over the age of 55. 

The chart below shows the total share of store traffic for the older age demographics.

“As you can see, family dining takes the lead as far as share of total traffic but notice that the other segments aren’t far behind. On average, 19 percent of the U.S. restaurant industry’s traffic is people 65 years and older.”


2019 Share of Store Traffic 65 Years and Older

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