COLUMBUS, Ohio (COLUMBUS BUSINESS FIRST)–Ohio restaurants saw another month-to-month drop in sales in September.

The Ohio Restaurant Association this week released its findings for last month and 71% of respondents said sales declined from August to September. The August survey showed a 61% drop from July to August.

That’s a reversal from earlier in the year when respondents consistently reported month-to-month growth.

Here is how the decline breaks down:

  • 36% dropped between 1% and 10%
  • 29% fell between 10% and 20%
  • 6% declined more than 20%

An additional 16% said sales grew while 13% said sales were flat.

“Ongoing concerns by consumers about Covid and the delta variant, along with mask and vaccine requirements in certain jurisdictions, are impacting business,” Association President and CEO John Barker said in a release. “Indoor dining is where we see the biggest pressure point.”

The industry continues to struggle with employee shortages as well – 93% said it remains a major issue. That has led some restaurants to limit hours and/or space, i.e. doing drive-thru only rather than opening dining rooms or not seating tables when there isn’t enough staff to serve them.

“We are hopeful that business conditions will improve as the Ohio Department of Health reports show Covid cases have plateaued in the state and are lower than the 21-day trend,” Barker said.

Confidence in the prospect of breaking even also slid for the first time in months, with 57% of respondents saying they expect to do so based on current trends. That figure held steady at around two-thirds for months.

Comparisons versus 2019 remained steady with 45% reporting an increase in September 2021 sales compared with September 2019 sales.

This poll was conducted Sept. 26-29 and asked respondents about the period from Sept. 1-29.

For more business headlines, go to ColumbusBusinessFirst.com.