The food business is perennial, as proven during the pandemic. When restrictions kept people out of restaurants, they ordered food for curbside pickup or delivery. Ordering was easy through various online apps they could quickly access on their smartphones. Food businesses that swiftly pivoted to this model flourished.
How Food Deliveries and Pickups Saved the Food Industry
The State of the Restaurant Industry Report of the National Restaurant Association (NRA) showed how food deliveries and pickups saved many food businesses from ruin when Covid-19 shut down dining outlets.
Various types of food businesses rechanneled their resources to off-premises services with the outbreak of Covid-19. These included 54 percent of fine dining restaurants, 52 percent of casual dining restaurants, 49 percent of family dining restaurants, 45 percent of fast-casual restaurants, 35 percent of quick-service shops, and 27 percent of coffee and snack shops.
Those who added curbside pickup from the start of the pandemic included 81 percent of fine dining restaurants, 78 percent of family dining restaurants, 77 percent of fast-casual restaurants, 73 percent of casual dining restaurants, 64 percent of coffee and snack shops, and 58 percent of quick-service shops.
Those who added in-house or third-party food delivery services included 46 percent of fine dining and family dining restaurants, 44 percent of casual dining and fast-casual restaurants, 42 percent of coffee and snack shops, and 31 percent of quick-service shops.
Those who pivoted report that their sales from deliveries and pickups increased compared to pre-pandemic levels. Fast-casual and quick-service businesses report a 74 percent increase in sales, casual dining services report a 70 percent increase, family dining services report a 69 percent increase, fine dining services report a 63 percent increase, and coffee and snack services report a 56 percent increase.
To support the shift to pickups and deliveries, many food businesses upgraded their takeout and delivery packaging during the pandemic. These included 86 percent of fine dining services, 78 percent of family dining services, 76 percent of casual dining services, 70 percent of fast-casual services, and 63 percent of quick-service shops and coffee and snack shops.
Consumers Cannot Get Enough of Food-to-Go and Pickup
Let us look at consumer behavior. Among all adults, 68 percent stated that their purchase of takeout food increased during the outbreak. This was fairly consistent across generations but highest among millennials at 73 percent. 53 percent of adults state that food delivery or pickup is already an essential part of their way of life. Again, millennials lead at 64 percent.
When ordering food for delivery, 64 percent of adults prefer ordering directly from the restaurant. Only 18 percent prefer to order from a third-party delivery service. Boomers lead those who prefer ordering directly from restaurants, at 79 percent.
Profit from the Return of Outdoor Restaurant Dining
There is a new development that impacts the food business. Vaccines rolled out, and as of July 20, 48.7 percent of the U.S. population from the age of 12 and older have received full vaccinations. That means 161.6 million people can now go anywhere without masks and the need for physical distancing as long as they are not immunocompromised. More than half of the population has not yet received full vaccination, though, and that is why some experts are still worried about indoor restaurant dining.
The Vox asked for the opinions of University of Washington assistant professor for Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Marissa Baker and George Mason University infectious disease epidemiologist Saskia Popescu. Both expressed concern that indoor dining is still unsafe because there is no way of knowing if the diners are fully vaccinated or not. Baker stated that it is still safer to dine outdoors.
Knowing this, food businesses can still take the opportunity of serving people who are raring to experience dining out again. The solution is to provide only outdoor dining, with larger tables for fewer people and with those tables set six feet apart. Add a portable handwashing station with a soap dispenser by Lakeside Manufacturing for your use by the diners.
Cover All Services with Your Food Business
Setting up a food business is always a good bet. The best way to maximize profits is to cover all bases. Consumers themselves state that they will continue to order food for delivery or pickup from various available apps for convenience. You must, therefore, focus on providing these services.
On the other hand, do not lose out on the opportunity of serving the needs of people who want to experience dining out again, whether you are a fine dining restaurant, a fast-food shop, or a coffee shop. People eat not only to nourish themselves but also to socialize. Make sure you do not contribute to another flare-up of Covid-19, though. Provide only outdoor dining with the proper health and safety protocols. If your food business covers all these services, then you are poised for even greater growth for 2021 and beyond.