June 2020 Restaurant Consumer Climate

Bob Gibson Bob Gibson Jolt Chief Revenue Officer

With some shelter in place restrictions being lifted and others expected to be lifted soon, how do consumers feel about returning to restaurants and their safety? We analyzed data from the Datassentials One Table report to bring you the breakdown on the current restaurant consumer climate. 

Although concern about COVID-19 is declining for most consumers, it still remains high, especially for those living in cities and urban centers. 

Overall current consumer concern over COVID-19 is:

  • 55% very concerned (urban consumers 60%)
  • 39% somewhat concerned
  • 6% not concerned

With high levels of concern and shelter orders, currently 76% of people only leave their house for essentials. Because of this, many have developed new habits that are likely to continue after COVID-19 has abated, like cooking from home. These trends are expected to continue even after the new normal with:

  • 78% of consumers eating at home more often
  • 37% stating they will make their own baked goods from home
  • 30% saying they will make their coffee at home

Overall, people are excited to get back out to restaurants when the concern is gone, with 63% of people looking forward to eating out again. But consumers will be slow to come back at first. When restrictions are lifted:

  • 59% say they will slowly return to a normal life
  • 25% will immediately go back to all normal activities 
  • 16% will be worried for a long time 

Those that have already returned to eating out stated that 89% of the time they were extremely satisfied with the safety measures taken. The biggest drivers for consumers eating out are:

  • 40% returned because of a specific craving for certain foods 
  • 36% (higher in boomers at 44%) have stated they returned to support a local restaurant 

Moving forward, work from home will increase and will impact lunch restaurant traffic with 75% of people wanting to work from home in the future and 48% of consumers working at least partly at home after things ease up. 

Safety will be more important than sustainability, favorite restaurant status, quality, or affordability. The following statistics show how safety expectations have changed:

  • 48% of consumers will expect staff to be gloved and masked
  • 68% of restaurants plan to continue increased hand washing 
  • 84% expect limited seating after restrictions are lifted
  • 75% expect self serve to stop
  • 63% feel comfortable going back to outdoor seating

Where consumers feel comfortable returning at first varies with: 

  • 61% QSR 
  • 57% fast casual 
  • 54% cafes or coffee shops
  • 52% fine dining

Needless to say, the restaurant industry will never be the same. It is more crucial than ever for restaurants to be adaptable and ensure policies remain in place to build trust with their customers. Overtime, the industry will adjust to this new norm and get on the same page with customers to keep their restaurants thriving. 


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