In 2020, as a result of the extending period of national lockdown lasting from March to June, COVID-19 had a distinctly negative impact on full-service restaurants. During the national lockdown period, and to a certain extent beyond the specific periods of lockdown, consumers switched to working and studying at home, curfews were put in place, and non-essential retail outlets, including consumer foodservice outlets, closed their doors to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus in Saudi Arabia.
On the whole, chained full-service restaurants largely performed worst that independent full-service restaurants in 2020. Of all the subcategories in full-service restaurants, though, amongst the worst performing were chained Asian full-service restaurants and middle Eastern full-service restaurants.
In 2020, there was a slight shift in the way consumers purchase and consume products from retailers in this category, although the shift was much less noticeable than in other categories such as limited-service restaurants. Eat-in sales continued to dominate the category over all, with only a slight reduction in share, whereas takeaway and home delivery sales only recorded a moderate increase in foodservice value terms, growing from an extremely low base.
In the aftermath of COVID-19, full-service restaurants in Saudi Arabia is expected to make a swift recovery. From 2021, the category is projected to record a positive spike in foodservice value sales and the number of transactions as Chained and Independent full-service restaurants alike recover from the effects of COVID-19.
Growth in full-service restaurants in the forecast period will be stimulated by the growing number of women in the work force and Saudization, all of which have improved the disposable incomes of many local families. More restaurants also provided mixed gender sittings in restaurants, where previously restaurants had segregated seating areas for men and women.
Amongst the worst hit players in full-service during the COVID-19 pandemic were pizza full-service restaurants, Asian full-service restaurants and middle Eastern full-service restaurants. The lack of tourism in the Kingdom contributed heavily to the decline in sales felt by these categories.
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