As lockdown measures limited consumers’ ability to eat-in for much of 2020, operators relied on delivery and takeaway sales to offset some losses. The ability to survive through 2020 was highly dependent on the ability of operators to quickly transition to a delivery- and takeaway-focused model.
Chained full-service restaurants, many owned by large conglomerates with significant geographic spread, have had some advantages over independents in facing the challenges brought about by COVID-19. However, in general, independent operators did not suffer substantially bigger value sales losses than chained operators over 2020.
Experiential dining is an established and growing trend in the US, particularly among younger consumers. In addition to the desire for innovative menu items and sustainable practices, enhancing the in-person dining experience has been a key driver of growth in full-service restaurants.
With COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in place for much of 2020, consumers ordered food online and through mobile devices at a very high rate. The surge in online ordering during the pandemic is somewhat unsurprising given the rapidly growing interest in online ordering in the review period.
All foodservice types were hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, but the impact was not distributed equally. For example, full-service restaurants suffered losses in value sales and consumer traffic far in excess of those of limited-service restaurants.
Sustainability and ethical practices were major areas of interest for foodservice consumers in the review period. While these preferences are unlikely to change in terms of the big-picture perspective in the short term, they have been overshadowed by health concerns and sanitisation practices in response to the pandemic.
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