OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Despite claims that restaurant spending was up in 2020, the Nebraska Restaurant Association found that it was actually down between 20 and 30 percent.
"You can not close a business for months on end and expect that their sales are up," said Zoe Olson, Executive Director of the Nebraska Restaurant Association.
The pandemic caused the industry to take a big hit, but many businesses were able to quickly adapt, allowing them to survive among many businesses closures.
"Restaurant operators are very flexible and they can change on a dime," Olson said. "When all the restaurants were closed nationwide for indoor dining, Nebraska rated 2nd per capita in takeout which helped us survive."
Among more carryout business, many restaurants also implemented more QR coded menus, contactless payment and shields which Olson expects will be taken into the industry long after COVID is gone.
"We’ll see things that we’ve found stay but each restaurant has had to do things in their own way in what made sense to them. Do we expect this is the last pandemic we’ll be in? No, so we’re going to remember these lessons and keep doing a lot of what we’ve been doing to stay ahead of the game," Olson said.
The industry is expected to improve and bring in more spending in 2021, according to Olson. Now that vaccine distribution has begun people are going to begin feeling more comfortable with going out.
She also says as other industries such as entertainment get back to normal, the restaurant industry will also see a boost.
"It’s basically when people feel confident to go out and experience that dining experience. When we can have a concert to go to again and then you eat out before the concert or you eat out after the concert. All those events are really important because I’m sure date night, those look different now to people," Olson said.