One-third of Wisconsin restaurants believe they will no longer be in business in the next six months if the current pandemic situation remains unchanged according to a survey.

According to the Wisconsin State Journal, restaurant owners in Wisconsin are facing a 36% decline in sales on average, and 53% of owners reported higher expenses as a percentage of sales based on a survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association. 

The National Restaurant Association surveyed 3,500 restaurants from Aug. 26 to Sept. 1, according to the WSJ. 33% of owners in Wisconsin reported they would need federal aid to remain operational in the next six months. 

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Director of the Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship Dan Olszewski said in an email to The Badger Herald that the restaurant industry already faces a high level of competition, so independent restaurant owners are struggling to combat the declining sales.

Given that the impact of COVID-19 is lasting for an extended period of time, it is likely that many of the restaurants have used up their resources which is driving many to close,” Olszewski said in an email.

According to WSJ, on the national scale, 37% of restaurant owners reported they would need federal relief within the next six months in order to continue operations. 

Olszewski said the pandemic is affecting all restaurants across the nation. This likely will not be resolved until COVID-19 is no longer an issue, and independent restaurants may struggle to wait until then, Olszewski said.

Well capitalized chains that were performing well before COVID-19 likely have the resources to survive until things get better, but smaller independents are finding the environment growing ever more difficult as the pandemic continues,” Olszewski said in an email.

According to a study by the James Beard Foundation back in April, 80% of restaurants may not survive the course of COVID-19. Olszewski said restaurant owners are facing uncertainty in the current climate, and their issues will not be resolved until customers feel safe to return to in person dining.

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According to WSJ, with decreasing sales already, 68% of owners believe their sales will not return to normal within the next six months, and 85% of owners reported lower sales in August 2020 than August 2019.

According to WSJ, after a rapid increase of rehiring back in May and June, restaurants only remain at 71% staffing, and 44% of owners do not expect staff levels to return to normal in the next six months

Olszewski said the pandemic has caused owners to seek out alternative models of operating as owners have had to decrease staffing and offer take out options. According to WSJ, 74% of owners reported carry out options being the majority of total business currently.

“All of us as consumers can help our favorite restaurants by getting take-out or gift cards from them and continuing to take the steps to lower the risk of COVID,” Olszewski said in an email. “Every bit helps and could make a difference.”