Consumers' Restaurant & Foodservice Behavior Likely To Shift Post-Covid
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Consumers' Restaurant & Foodservice Behavior Likely To Shift Post-Covid

Consumers' Restaurant & Foodservice Behavior Likely To Shift Post-Covid

Deloitte’s Global State of the Consumer Tracker poll examines likely outcomes for the restaurant and foodservices industry in an economy recovering from Covid-19 – and predicts some significant changes franchised restaurants must plan for in a post-Covid world. Find a summary and a free downloadable 5-page report here.

Based on a poll of 3,000 U.S. consumers, the trend of consumers buying fresh food and cooking more at home will continue – despite reports of pent-up demand and partial or full restaurant reopenings happening now across the country.

“There are high hopes that things will go back to normal once the vaccine is in enough arms, including dining out,” the authors note. “However, a full return to normal may not be in the cards for the foodservices and restaurant industries.” 

Based on the responses, the data indicate that “while restaurant dining will surely increase from today’s levels, consumers are telling us frequency will remain stunted compared to 2019, at least in the medium term.”

Some stats for net activity change after the health crisis ends, benchmarked against pre-pandemic activity levels:

+42% Cook at home

+29% Buy fresh food

+26% Work from home

+20% Order food for takeout or delivery

–10% Stay at a hotel or motel

–12% Eat at restaurants

–13% Take a flight

–16% Attend in-person events 

Keep in mind, the authors note, that this data tracks people and their intention to participate less, more, or about the same in these activities (and not dollar spending). Also, Americans have famously short memories, and old habits die hard, which is why they qualify the results as medium-term, not permanent… at least not yet.

Additionally, 40% of the 3,000 respondents said they will continue with takeout and delivery – good news for restaurants that already had or have added those services in the past year.

However, the authors noted, if these results prove directionally correct, it will mark a major shift in how Americans eat. They see three potential reasons for this trending shift:

1) Structural. Consumers and employers both expect increased WFH to continue beyond the pandemic. This will cut into breakfasts grabbed on the way to work, lunches out with co-workers, and after-hours drinking and dining.

2) Economic. Cooking is a cheaper option, and millions of Americans will exit the pandemic in much worse financial shape than before.

3) Preference. Consumers have become better at cooking during the pandemic. And with new services that seamlessly deliver groceries to their doors, and purchases such as bread cookbook sales up 145% and countertop appliance sales up 32% in 2020, it’s now easier to choose what many consumers see as a healthier, more personalized option for eating.

Finally, the authors note, the psychological scars of the pandemic will lead many to continue avoiding crowded public spaces, including restaurants, at least for the short and medium terms.

Published: March 19th, 2021

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