The Increasing Frequency of Grocery and Restaurant Bankruptcies: Canaries In America’s Economic Coal Mine?

By: Richard M. Blau, chair of GrayRobinson's alcohol beverage, food law, and cannabis industry departments

The retail food retail industry comprises foods and beverages sold at food retailers such as grocery stores, mass merchandisers, drug stores, convenience stores and foodservice facilities. Total retail and food service sales in the United States amounted to about 5.75 trillion U.S. dollars in 2017. By the end of 2019, grocery stores and supermarkets alone accounted for revenues of $678 billion dollars. Restaurants in the U.S. were projected to exceed $863 billion in revenues by the end of 2019.

Despite such healthy numbers, several industry metrics suggest the less than rosy economic future. Grocery and restaurant bankruptcies of just the past week, combined with similar events occurring throughout the course of 2019, suggest that the retail food industry may be heading into dangerous operating conditions.

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