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A lot more restaurants are paying their rent

More than one-third of restaurants were behind on their April rent, according to a new study from Alignable, but that was a big drop from March.
Photograph: Shutterstock

In another gauge of the restaurant industry’s recovery, the number of establishments that were unable to pay their April rent dropped 28 percentage points from the March level, though 1 of every 3 places still couldn’t muster the money, according to new data.

In a survey of nearly 9,000 small businesses, the research arm of the Alignable employment referral agency found that 35% of restaurants couldn’t cover their rent this month, compared with the 63% who came up short for March.

The industry had one of the lowest rates of non-payment among the various types of small businesses that were canvassed by the Alignable Research Center.

More than two out of every five auto dealers and repair shops, for instance, were unable to give their landlords the complete amount. Hotels and other travel-dependent small businesses had a non-payment rate of 39%.

The findings are consistent with other indications that consumers are dining out again while continuing to place delivery and takeout orders at nearly the elevated early levels of the pandemic. With March sales approaching 2019 levels for the industry as a whole, operators had the money to pay their landlords.

“Many of these industry trends are very promising and it’s beyond encouraging to witness what's happening,” wrote Alignable’s Chuck Casto. “That said, the thousands of small business owners in these industries are still fighting every day to keep their businesses afloat. In other words, most small business owners are far from running a victory lap.”

The research noted that the percentage of small businesses that were unable to pay their rent was significantly higher for ventures owned by members of a minority, at 53%.  It did not break out the figure for restaurants owned by minorities.

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