Market research firm Datassential has been fielding surveys weekly since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. A recent report of operators noted a (weighted) average sales decline of 65% across all restaurant industry segments since the COVID-19 outbreak began.
Fine-dining restaurants were the hardest hit, with an 82% decrease in sales, followed by lodging (80%), casual dining (73%), midscale dining (70%), fast casual (51%) and QSR (42%).
The majority (65%) of operators have closed dining rooms but are still offering delivery and takeout; 30% are completely closed for the time being and just 5% are operating as usual.
While 86% of operators report that they’ve seen an increase in takeout orders, it has not been enough to offset to dine-in losses.
Restaurants are in a tough spot with 66% reporting reduced hours of operation. Operators have moved quickly, according to Datassential’s survey, to update food safety procedures (56%), add curbside pickup (59%), offer contactless delivery (30%) and sign up with third-party delivery services (22%). Nearly a third (27%) have shuffled and repurposed staff but just 7% have begun offering paid sick leave.
Menu changes have included 43% of operators narrowing their menu to just their most popular items and those selections that travel best. Incentives include adding discounts and meal deals (17%), family-size orders (12%) and the addition of refrigerated or frozen “take and bake” items (10%). However, 34% say they have made no menu changes due to the outbreak.
As for the future, 61% of operators say they are preparing for the coronavirus-led disruptions to last 3 to 6 months; 26% believe it will be over in 3-45 days and a pessimistic 13% believe this is the “new normal.”