The number is down but it's not as bad as you would expect in Illinois.

When COVID-19 hit Rockford and mitigation efforts caused all restaurants and bars in the state to close, many thought this would be the end of some of our favorite places to eat.

And while we have lost many great restaurants in the state due to the pandemic, a new study shows spending at restaurants isn't as off from a year ago as we all thought it would be.

Certainly not dismissing what 5% means to restaurants and all businesses for that matter. 5% could be the difference between staying open and closed when some restaurants and bars have razor-thin margins.

TOP Data and Zenreach found that in some states restaurant spending is actually up from 2019. States like Washington, Utah, and South Dakota all had an over 20% rise in restaurant spending.

Just north of us, Wisconsin diners spent 13% more at restaurants this year compared to last.

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So why are we down in Illinois? We support a good local restaurant in Rockford and Chicago nearly better than anyone. Well, the forced restaurant closures in the spring and fall more than likely have something to do with the dip in restaurant spending in Illinois.

The states that faced the biggest deficit from year to year are those that have been hit hardest by COVID-19, like California, New York, and Florida. All three have seen an over 10% drop since 2019 in restaurant spending but none have felt the brunt of the pandemic worse than Idaho. For some reason or another, spending in Idaho restaurants is down nearly 50% in 2020.

When I see those numbers, I'm glad we're only at a minus five for the year in Illinois.

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Sweet Lenny is the brand manager of 97ZOK, Q98.5, and Operations Manager for Townsquare Media Rockford. Catch him afternoons 3 to 7 on 97ZOK. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram, and like his page on Facebook.