The Wall Street Journal recently published a piece about the state of the economy, which has already been in very poor shape, and coming changes being forced by the spread of the COVID-19 virus. One of the major shakeups that is coming will be the destruction of the restaurant industry, which citing data from the National Restaurant Industry shows that in one month alone, restaurants have lost $25 billion dollars and is threatening trillions in real estate mortgages and commercial property.
The U.S. restaurant industry has lost $25 billion in sales since March 1, according to a survey of 5,000 owners by the National Restaurant Association. Nearly 50,000 stores of major U.S. retail chains have closed, according to the companies.
An estimated $20 billion in monthly retail real estate loans are due as early as this week, according to Marcus & Millichap, a commercial real-estate services and consulting firm. Many retailers and restaurants have said they are not going to pay their April rents, which in turn poses a threat to the $3 trillion commercial mortgage market. (source)
Remember the adage that the best time to buy is when there is blood in the streets.
If one has considered going into the restaurant business, now is not a good time, but right after this virus mania passes may be a good time to invest and pick up assets at cheap prices.
Likewise, one may also see a reshaping of the restaurant industry itself, for as people are seeking to distance themselves from others, the ‘social’ concept of a restaurant may be return to it historical paradigm of being restricted to special events or very fancy once-a-year dinners that cost a lot of money. In that sense, one may see something of a return to a historical mean for what restaurants and the food industry used to be. There still will be coffee houses and other such places, but just smaller and more distributed as opposed to as concentrated as they are now.
The restaurant industry exploded over the last decade as the only major bastion left of a profitable “industry”, but now that it is closing down because of the current changes, it is going to put a lot of people out of work with nowhere to go or pay their bills. This will perpetuate the cycle of frustration afflicting the country, driving the current situation further down the path which it is already headed towards social division, and eventually having the potential to culminate in a rebellion against the current political order.
This is more than restaurants closing. This is about major profit losses, a lot of people out of work, some new business opportunities, and a major step in forcing a political earthquake in the future.