US hotel occupancy rises to 44%, but top markets still lag

Marks 10th straight week of overall uptick; New York sees 3rd straight drop

TRD NATIONAL /
Jun.June 25, 2020 08:00 AM
Occupancy rates hit 44 percent nationwide, marking the 10th straight week that rates have climbed. But some of the biggest markets in the country, like New York City, continue to lag.
Occupancy rates hit 44 percent nationwide, marking the 10th straight week that rates have climbed. But some of the biggest markets in the country, like New York City, continue to lag.

The good news is that hotel occupancy across the country rose for the 10th consecutive week.

The bad news is the overall rate is still very low. And in some major markets like New York, it actually dropped.

About 44 percent of hotel rooms in the U.S. were occupied for the week ending June 20, that’s two percentage points above from the previous week’s total, according to hotel data tracker STR. It’s also twice the rate it was during the second week of April, when states across the nation were shut down because of the pandemic, and the overall economy seized up.

With states and cities nationwide now in different phases of reopening — amid a recent rise in coronavirus cases — the improvement for hotels is noticeable, particularly in areas close to the water.

“Demand continues to be pushed upward by drive-to spots and destinations with outdoor offerings such as beaches,” said STR’s Jan Frietag.

While nationwide occupancy and revenue per available room are down about 42 percent and 60 percent, respectively, from where they were at the same time last year, some markets have improved to near 2019 levels.

The most recent data shows that 10 markets had hotels with average occupancy above 70 percent, led by Panama City, Florida, with 88.7 percent. That’s less than a percentage point below what it was last year.

New York City saw occupancy dip for the third straight week, falling to 43.6 percent from 45.7 percent a week prior. Occupancy was at its highest since the pandemic started in the first week of June, and hasn’t eclipsed 50 percent since the first week of March, according to STR. RevPAR in New York also fell, to $55.37 from $57.86.

Occupancy climbed in the Los Angeles area, to 44.1 percent last week, from 42 percent. RevPAR increased a few dollars to $51.20, marking the first time since the second week of March that it was above $50.

Florida’s occupancy rate rose four percentage points to 45.6 percent last week while RevPAR bumped up about nine dollars to $54.57.

Chicago, meanwhile, continues to struggle. Occupancy remained about the same last week at 32.6 percent, with RevPAR hitting $25.67. That was about $1.50 above the previous total.

The top 25 markets in the country recorded a 38.4 occupancy rate, well below the national average. The Norfolk/Virginia Beach market’s 54 percent occupancy made it the only city on that list with more than half of its rooms filled.

Hawaii’s island of Oahu, along with Boston and Orlando, Florida, were again the worst-performing markets nationwide. Just 13.7 percent of rooms in Oahu were filled, while 26.1 percent of rooms in Boston were occupied, and 28.2 percent of rooms in Orlando had guests.


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