Restaurant sales are coming back, but the return is quicker some places than others

Restaurants in Montana and Oklahoma are restocking the fastest, even as those in West Virginia, Rhode Island and New Mexico are hitting their low points, according to new purchasing data.
Madison Square Park Shake Shack
Photo courtesy of Shake Shack

With states lifting restrictions and consumers beginning to venture out again, restaurants are ordering more food and supplies as operations begin to return to normal.

Nationwide, restaurant purchasing has risen to 46.6% of its normal capacity, up from 32% the week of March 22, according to Buyers Edge Platform, a restaurant supply chain and technology company.   

However, a breakdown of purchasing capacity by state reveals an uneven comeback. While restaurants in some areas have bounced back quickly, others’ purchasing numbers have increased only slightly since the coronavirus and ensuing shutdowns began.  

Montana restaurants, for instance, have rebounded the fastest, with purchasing capacity up 241% compared to its low in late March.

According to Buyers Edge, restaurants are also making big comebacks in:

  • Oklahoma, where purchasing capacity is up 176% since its lowest week of March 22.
  • Arkansas, up 153% since March 22.
  • Tennessee, up 149% since March 22. 
  • Wyoming, up 130% since March 22. 

On the other end are restaurants in West Virginia, Rhode Island and New Mexico, where purchasing volume only just hit its low point the week of May 10.

Other states where restaurants are bouncing back the slowest:

  • Maine, where purchasing capacity is up 3.5% since its low week of April 19.
  • New York, up 7.1% since April 12
  • Minnesota, up 9.7% since March 22.

“We’re obviously encouraged that nationwide restaurant purchasing volume is trending upward,” Buyers Edge CEO John Davie said in a statement. “But there’s a long way to go before things come even close to approaching volume prior to the pandemic.”

Restaurant purchasing was closest to normal levels in Wisconsin, where restaurants were buying at 81.2% of their typical volume. Restaurants there were allowed to reopen May 13 after the state Supreme Court overturned the governor’s stay-at-home order.

The lowest was in Nevada, where restaurants were purchasing at just 12.6% of their normal volume. Nevada lifted its dine-in restrictions on May 11, but the state’s restaurants are highly dependent on tourism, and Las Vegas operators told RB they expect a slow recovery.

Restaurants in New York, one of the nation’s largest restaurant markets, were purchasing at 30% of their normal volume, according to Buyers Edge.

The information is based on 2020 purchasing data for more than 30,000 restaurants.

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