STR: U.S. hotels see declines in early March due to COVID-19

The pandemic’s toll on the market is just beginning, expert says

Occupancy, RevPAR and ADR for U.S. hotels grew in February overall, according to STR, but early March is registering the first declines from the COVID-19 pandemic (second week results shown in photo).

FEBRUARY MAY HAVE been the last month of positive growth for U.S. hotels for the next few months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to STR. Occupancy, RevPAR and ADR all dropped in the first two weeks of March.

For February overall, occupancy rose 0.2 percent to 62.2 percent, ADR rose 1.4 percent to $130.78 and RevPAR went up 1.7 percent to $81.33. However, in the first week of March occupancy declined 7.3 percent to 61.8 percent, ADR went down 4.6 percent to $126.01 and RevPAR dropped 11.6 percent to $77.82.

In the second week, ending March 14, occupancy dropped 24.4 percent to 53 percent, ADR dipped 10.7 percent to $120.30 and RevPAR went down 32.5 percent to $63.74. The last week of February, the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S., also saw declines in occupancy and RevPAR, though ADR rose 1.6 percent to $129.67.

“To no surprise, the hurt continued and intensified for hotels around the country,” said Jan Freitag, STR’s senior vice president of lodging insights. “The performance declines were especially pronounced in hotels that cater to meetings and group business, which is a reflection of the latest batch of event cancellations and government guidance to restrict the size of gatherings.”

At the same time, all chain scales, classes and location types saw declines, according to STR. The most commonly asked questions now, Freitag said, are how low will occupancy drop and how long will it all last?

“Through comparative analysis of the occupancy trends in China and Italy over the past weeks, we can with certainty say that we are not yet close to the bottom in the U.S.,” he said. “However, the timeline for that decline and the eventual recovery are much tougher to predict because there is still so much uncertainty around the COVID-19 case numbers in the U.S. and how serious citizens are when practicing social distancing. China and Italy saw a more abrupt decline in occupancy because of stricter lockdowns. That will dictate the speed of recovery.”

The top 25 markets in the country all saw double-digit declines in occupancy and RevPAR along with at least some decline in ADR. Seattle saw the steepest declines by mid-March with occupancy dropping 55.0 percent to 32.9 percent, RevPAR going down 66.1 percent to $35.97 and ADR falling 24.7 percent to $109.28.

San Francisco saw the second largest decrease, with RevPAR dropping 63.3 percent to $68.56 as a result of a 51.6 percent decline in occupancy to 38.9 percent. ADR fell 24.2 percent to $176.38. New York saw the third-largest drops in occupancy, down 43.9 percent to 48.8 percent, and RevPAR, down 54.6 percent to $88.29, while New Orleans had the third-steepest drop in ADR, down 22.8 percent to $138.11.