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A new report issued by the National Restaurant Association shows that eateries around the country continue to struggle because of the Covid-19 pandemic. More than three-quarters of 3,000 restaurant operators recently surveyed by the association say their sales were lower in January than they were in January 2020, and, on average, sales were down by 26 percent.

Independent full-service restaurants fared worst in January, according to the association, with sales down 36 percent from a year prior. Franchise limited-service restaurants saw the least decline, with sales down just 8 percent. Part of the slowdown was caused by a decline in the number of restaurants that were able to offer outdoor dining in areas where it was too cold to do so. While takeout sales increased, they did not rise enough to offset lost sales from dine-in customers.

Looking forward, just 18 percent of restaurant operators expect their sales to increase in February or March, and 14 percent say they will "probably" or "definitely" be closed within three months if the federal government does not approve additional relief measures. Overall, the association estimates that more than 110,000 restaurants have closed either permanently or temporarily since the pandemic began.

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