Restaurant Customers Showing Signs Of Pandemic Fatigue
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Restaurant Customers Showing Signs Of Pandemic Fatigue

Restaurant Customers Showing Signs Of Pandemic Fatigue

Throughout the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, location technology company Bluedot has issued reports documenting shifting consumer behavior and its impact on restaurants. The company has released its third installment of its State of What Feeds Us report

The latest report offers insights into customer expectations to help restaurant brands navigate through what continues to be an uncertain consumer climate. The research, based on a survey of over 1,500 American consumers, was completed last month.

Highlights from the report include:

  • Restaurant customers are showing clear signs of pandemic fatigue. Concern for safety protocols such as masks and gloves softened among consumers. They also expressed less anxiety connected to entering stores or restaurants. 69% were still experiencing some level of anxiety, a decline from 80% from last April. 
  • Consumers are becoming more impatient. Consumers favored shorter wait times over safety protocols. Their willingness to wait for restaurant orders dropped dramatically to an average of six minutes across drive-thru, curbside, and in-store pickup options from 10 minutes just six months ago. Slow speed of service looks like a deal breaker for consumers as 77% stated they will leave or consider leaving a restaurant if they see a long line. 
  • Curbside and in-store pickups are on the rise. 67% of consumers are picking up at curbside as often or more frequently now compared to 45% from last April. In-store pickups have also increased with 67% picking up in store as often or more frequently now compared to 55% last April. Of note, 53% of those who had not tried pickup last April have started to utilize the service. 
  • Restaurant drive-thru visits dipped slightly last month, but remain strikingly high. Consumer drive-thru visits dipped slightly from the last report with a decrease to 68% of those visiting as often or more frequently in January from 74% in August. However, the drive-thru still remains vastly more popular now than at the beginning of the pandemic with a 26% increase in consumers frequenting the drive-thru as regularly or more often since last April. 
  • Mobile real estate is competitive for restaurant apps. While the majority of consumers (85%) currently have at least one restaurant app on their phone, very few (17%) have more than five. However, 28% indicated they would be willing to have more than five restaurant apps on their phone. Brands that earn a spot will remain for at least six months according to 46% of consumers who stated they typically keep a restaurant app for at least six months. 
  • Consumers are downloading more restaurant apps and app usage has spiked. There continues to be a sharp uptick in mobile app usage since the start of the pandemic with consumers downloading and using restaurant mobile apps more now than ever before. The vast majority of consumers (82%) indicated that they have downloaded at least one new mobile app to purchase food or essentials. The data also revealed an increase of 134% among consumers who have downloaded 3 - 5 new apps and a 265% increase among those who have downloaded 5 or more new apps. The majority of consumers (68%) have 1 - 5 restaurant apps on their phones.
  • Third-party delivery apps lag behind restaurant apps. 79% of consumers indicated they are ordering directly from restaurant apps more than once a month while 36% said they never order from third-party apps. 

Pandemic-era restaurant habits will outlast Covid-19. 8 in 10 consumers (78%) plan to continue their current dining habits even after the pandemic subsides.

Published: February 15th, 2021

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