How Consumer Behavior Affects Restaurants Post-COVID
Although we’re not out of the woods with COVID-19 yet, restaurants are having a good summer with dine-in services reopening. June sales alone demonstrate the trajectory of consumer behavior in a relatively post-pandemic world. Things aren’t totally back to normal yet, but already profits have risen from the return of sit-down service alone.
Notable Consumer Behavior
Consider this: A deadly pandemic hit the world and isolated people in their homes for over a year. Now they’re free to enjoy life much the way they did before (with a few added precautions, of course). Yet despite increasing sales, they’re not coming in the way it did before. Now customers have different tendencies and expectations when they come to dine in.
For example, consumer behavior now tends toward things like:
group meals. It’s more common to enjoy special occasions with slightly larger parties since it’s difficult to get together on a regular basis.
higher checks on average. This makes sense given the tendency to gather in bigger groups than usual. Plus, people splurge on special nights out.
eating at home. Not all new trends are good for restaurants. With so many months in a house together, families may have begun new meal traditions that they plan to keep doing, which means buying less takeout.
continuing to work from home. Remote work became so normalized during COVID-19 that a lot of employees prefer it. Places that usually do well with business professionals on lunch will definitely notice that decline moving forward, and might adapt to new demographics.
The pandemic touched businesses and customers in ways we’re still coming to terms with. As we move into different phases of the pandemic, consumer behavior will continue to dictate the way the industry changes too.
How the Industry Has Changed
When customers began needing a different, COVID-safe restaurant experience, the industry changed accordingly. Restaurants and their tech distributors are recognizing that the world is headed inexorably toward digitization. Customers went mobile last year and don’t plan to stop anytime soon.
Online ordering solutions make sense. COVID-19 has not disappeared, and in fact the Delta variant shows how quickly the winds could shift against restaurant recovery. Reopening goes in fits and starts as these inconveniences war with the clearly strong human desire to experience the outside world with loved ones.
But that’s not all you’re likely to see in the coming months. More and more, customers support small businesses over major chains. Why? After seeing how much their local community suffered at the start of the pandemic, customers have taken care to prioritize those restaurants when they choose to get takeout. Ethical consumerism is rising, which is the same reason people prefer green business practices. Flexibility and self-service will also enjoy a long reign now that customers are so used to the utter convenience, automation and efficiency of the latest tech solutions.