We Are Impactors, Million Dollar Vegan, and abillion have created Save Vegan Restaurants, an advocacy and fundraising drive to support and save beloved vegan restaurants in the United States from potential financial disaster. The campaign launches 1 April 2021.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted nearly every industry. From small mom-and-pop diners to giant restaurant chains, the Food and Beverages industry has been hit particularly hard. Restaurants have been forced to change operations, cancel gatherings and even close. According to an online survey of US restaurants by abillion, nearly 64% of businesses saw a loss in revenue during the pandemic. One-third of vegan restaurants surveyed said they were in danger of closing.
Additionally, based on more than 30K US dish reviews on the abillion platform, we conducted a study of COVID-19’s effect on retail dining trends in the US and its resulting impact on vegan restaurant businesses. The slow pandemic response in the US can be seen in the gradual decline in vegan dish reviews posted through the abillion app. By contrast, drastic declines in Singapore and the UK coincide with their respective nationwide lockdowns. However, the declines were followed by sharp upticks spurred on by their subsequent reopening, which included stimulus initiatives such as the UK’s “Eat Out to Help Out” scheme.
Our data shows that between Feb and Aug 2020, monthly vegan dish reviews in the US dropped by 31%. Although member review rates have seen a slight improvement since then, current rates still remain at 22% below their pre-pandemic levels. US restaurants have struggled to stay afloat throughout the pandemic. This is reflected in the increasing number of previously popular restaurants that stopped garnering reviews in our platform. Further investigation reveals that the majority of these restaurants are located in the West (42%) and Midwest (27%) regions.
New restaurants, however, have continued to onboard onto our platform. It can be seen that an increasing proportion of dish reviews on the platform can be attributed to new restaurants, rather than existing ones. Moreover, the slight uptick observed in the US in Oct 2020 was largely driven by new restaurants. Pre-covid favorites, on the other hand, are struggling to recover. While the emergence of new restaurants might seem promising for the industry, the number of new US restaurants onboarding onto the abillion ecosystem each month has fallen drastically throughout the pandemic; thus, new restaurants cannot be expected to compensate for the loss of existing ones.