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Want to Help the Restaurant Industry? Here's How ...


No doubt, 2020 has b*tch-slapped the restaurant industry. More than 8 million restaurant employees were laid off or furloughed, and the industry lost $235 billion in sales between March and November. 

In total between March and November, eating and drinking place sales were down nearly $192 billion from expected levels, based on the unadjusted data. Add in the sharp reduction in spending at non-restaurant foodservice operations in the lodging, arts/entertainment/recreation, education, healthcare, and retail sectors, and the total shortfall in restaurant and foodservice sales likely reached $235 billion during the last nine months.
No doubt there is a lot of work in front of the industry. How can we, as consumers, help? Delivery and takeout has been a life-line for the industry. However, with the past year’s impact on sales, restaurant gift cards are taking on special meaning for operators and consumers this holiday season.
For restaurants, they represent immediate revenue and future business, and for customers, they remain a convenient gift to give and receive. They’re a reminder that a great meal from a restaurant is always something to look forward to.

Restaurant Gift Cards are Still Popular

A new National Restaurant Association survey of 1,000 adult consumers found that this 
year, despite the pandemic, 42% said they planned to give a restaurant gift card to someone during the holidays, and 62% said they’d like to receive gift cards as a holiday present. Of that group, 63% indicated they’d like the gift card to be to their favorite restaurant.
“Restaurant gift cards have always been an important component driving sales over the holiday period and beyond,” said Hudson Riehle, the National Restaurant Association’s senior vice president of research. “Right now, they’re even more critical to operators, because of the pandemic. Consumers have always welcomed them, and their availability can nudge diners into the decision to not only seek a restaurant meal solution but also to patronize a specific brand or operation.”

Share it on Social Media

Through a coordinated digital and social media campaign, the National Restaurant Association is leading a two-pronged approach to urge guests to buy restaurant gift cards and help restaurants promote gift card sales.
Through a viral social media campaign, guests are asked to record short videos or post pictures of themselves buying restaurant gift cards and tagging someone to do the same. They post the video or photo using #StepUpToTheTable. The campaign is ready to share through this social media toolkit.

Simultaneously, the Association continues its campaign encouraging customers to Let Restaurants Do the Cooking this holiday season. Gift cards are a perfect prompt to get customers to order full meals, sides, appetizers, or desserts from their favorite restaurants, supplementing home dining over the holidays.

Breakfast Breakout

The American Egg Board also has a gift card marketing promotion designed specifically
to help restaurants boost business. The Gift of Eggs campaign encourages people to help bring breakfast back by giving friends and loved ones gift cards to their favorite local restaurants. The board is promoting it on social media and using Google Maps technology to suggest nearby restaurants for breakfast or brunch gift-card giving. The message is that gift cards offer a great alternative for those who need a break from cooking during the hectic holiday season.
Selling holiday gift cards will engage consumers and keep your brand top of mind. It also presents an opportunity for them to celebrate the holidays and support their favorite restaurants at the same time.

GC Galore has put together a complete list of restaurant gift cards and promos.

There are also restaurant industry funds to which you can contribute: 

The Restaurant Employee Relief Fund

World Central Kitchen

The James Beard Foundation Relief Fund

Also,  you can also use this prewritten letter to tell Congress to pass the Restaurants Act. We all need to do our part to help in the recovery of the restaurant industry. The restaurants we know and love — the ones where we celebrated special occasions, the ones who took care of first responders and their own communities when COVID-19 descended upon us, the ones who kept so many of us fed during this nightmare of a year — won’t be able to hang on for much longer. 

And so ends my unfortunately "sparse" blogging for 2020. As the year draws to a close, I extend wishes to you and your loved ones for the happiest of holidays, and wish you each a very Happy New Year. Looking forward to seeing you in 2021! 

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