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Coronavirus Caused 30%–40% Drops in Dining Out in 2020

The USDA Economic Research Service offers this calculation of just how bad the first year of the coronavirus pandemic was for restaurants and other establishments relying on our desire not to make our own supper. According to USDA-ERS, restaurant spending in the U.S. dropped 31.7% in 2020. Spending at bars dropped 40.7%. Spending on food at hotels and motels dropped 42.9%.

USDA Economic Research Service, "Spending Dropped at All Types of Food-Away-from-Home Outlets in First Year of Covid-19 Pandemic," 2022.05.18.
USDA Economic Research Service, “Spending Dropped at All Types of Food-Away-from-Home Outlets in First Year of Covid-19 Pandemic,” 2022.05.18.

Think of how many businesses could not have survived a 30% or 40% drop in spending. Think of how many businesses we saved with the Paycheck Protection Program and other necessary socialist interventions in an economy where millions of people exercising their free-market choice were saying, “No way am I going to sit in a crowded restaurant and catch and spread a virus for which there is no vaccine. I’m staying home and making sandwiches.”

9 Comments

  1. DaveFN 2022-05-19

    “No way am I going to sit in a crowded restaurant and catch and spread a virus for which there is no vaccine. I’m staying home and making sandwiches.”

    And I’m proud of all the veterans without whining or complaint who comply with the rule to come masked to the Rapid City VA Clinic if they want their COVID booster, my 100 year young NAVY WAVE mother among them.

  2. Donald Pay 2022-05-19

    I don’t know about you, but we (Liz and moi) save a lot of money by making our own sandwiches. We ate lunch out an average of two times a week. I’m not sure what the price for that is now, but at the price we were paying out when the pandemic started we have saved $3,744. It cost us less $500 to make those lunches at home, for a savings of >$3,244 from mid-March 2020 to mid-March 2022, We continue to eat lunches at home, and pocket that money.

  3. Arlo Blundt 2022-05-19

    Nothing beats a great sandwich…I’m partial to a braunschwager, Cotto Salami, onion, tomato and lettuce on dark rye bread, with horseradish and mustard. Admittedly, it is an acquired taste. Cost be damned.

  4. mike from iowa 2022-05-19

    Arlo lost me at braunschwager. What is wrong with cold cheese or an egg sandwich.? Simplicity is perfection.

  5. grudznick 2022-05-19

    Oh, Mr. Blundt…grudznick may be in love with your sandwich.

  6. Bonnie B Fairbank 2022-05-19

    mike from iowa: I’m with you. My parents used to buy large rounds of braunschweiger in the 50s and 60s and forced my brother and me to eat it. On brown bread with margarine. Fried in a skillet. It surely must have been cheap; pennies a pound is my guess.

    This morning I had a fried egg sandwich (yep, I bought eggs and used a bit of my Senior Commodities cheez and a hamburger bun I got at The Food Pantry) and had a delishful breakfast.

  7. mike from iowa 2022-05-19

    Thanks Bonnie B Fairbank. I was raised on bologna and chips for school lunches. Even I can’t mess up an egg sandwich.

  8. Bonnie B Fairbank 2022-05-20

    I emailed Cory on 9/18/2021 about the last time I “dined out” in Hot Springs I treated a good friend and his daughter to a medium-sized pizza with three soft drinks at Big Time Pizza in July 2018, and the totally reasonable bill was $66 and change BEFORE TIP.

    This was, of course, before the pandemic. I refuse to accept “the fact” food prices, supply shortages, and all the bullsh*t we’ve absorbed from the right wing pundits is inflation caused by the current administration.

    Nope. Merely company and corporate greed, American’s willfully spawning, consuming resources they and their children demand cheaply, and being shocked they have to pay for them with more money.

  9. Mark Anderson 2022-05-20

    I used to love braunschwager or however you spell it, but I did have six bypasses. Growing up in South Dakota and its eating habits is something you need to bypass earlier than I did.

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