When pandemic restrictions are eased, diners are looking forward to once again visiting their favorite restaurants, according to a new Oracle Food and Beverage study. Despite a severe slump in restaurant sales reported at the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdowns, the survey found that 59 percent of respondents in the US and 47 percent of UK consumers plan to dine out as soon it’s deemed safe to reopen.
In fact, over a quarter (26 percent) of US respondents said they plan to return in the first week after their favorite dining spots reopen. However the pandemic may have changed some priorities: What consumers most want as restaurants reopen are reassurances about cleanliness and contactless service.
The poll of 2,000 consumers in the US and UK looked at dining preferences prior to and during stay-at-home-orders. Of the survey respondents in the US, 40 percent said they would feel safer if they could see the menu from their mobile device. A similar number (39 percent) of UK consumers agreed. About a third of those surveyed said they would like to be able to settle their bills using a contactless payment technology.
And although options may be more limited at independent restaurants, 39 percent of those in the US and 36 percent in the UK ordered more frequently from their local restaurant than before the crisis.
Third-party delivery apps have grown in popularity during the pandemic, but the survey found that the majority of consumers (86 percent) prefer to order directly from a restaurant, rather than using a third-party app or other platforms. Of those, 35 percent prefer to order directly over the phone, while others prefer to order digitally either through the restaurant’s website (35 percent) or a restaurant app (18 percent).
Millennial diners (ages 25-39) are most likely to return to regular dining out, while the Boomer generation (age 55+) are likely to dine out less frequently. Over half (56 percent) of Millennials said they dined out on a weekly basis prior to stay-at-home-orders and 41 percent intend return to weekly outings after restaurants reopen. In contrast, less than a third (28 percent) of Boomers previously dined out weekly and only 12 percent intend to continue that frequency upon reopening.
“Throughout the globe, we have seen communities rallying around local independents to ensure they make it through to the other side of this crisis,” said Simon de Montfort Walker, senior vice president and general manager, Oracle Food and Beverage. “But while consumers are anxious to get back out there to eat, they come with new expectations on everything from menus to the technology used to increase safety. Execution will play a pivotal role in building customer trust and ensuring today’s diners remain loyal.”