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  • Writer's pictureShraddha Umrao

How COVID-19 will Shape the Future of Restaurants?

Before the virus hit, the restaurant industry was almost overheated with new places opening faster in many cities than diners could keep up with. While it’s still too early to say what the post-COVID-19 scene is going to look like, these are some estimated food trends that will shape restaurants in a post-coronavirus world.

Recovery will obviously be a challenge for all restaurants: both large and small. It will be a rebound that won’t happen overnight. The restaurant industry will see a new reality, post COVID-19. What does it look like? Social distancing is working and will need to have a place in our current landscape for at least the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, restaurants will be closed or thinned, approximately 15–25% as a whole, according to some reports. Those who survive will need to.

In March alone, there have been 3% permanent restaurant closures with April looking to hit an additional 11% of restaurants that will shutter doors. The labour market will loosen up as people who have lost jobs look for steady income. As an opportunity, we likely will find stronger staff with experience. Marginal restaurant sales growth of 3% compared to COVID-19 impacted sales will continue as the competition closes.

Moving forward, curbside service will be a staple of the industry. There will also be a shift in consumer focus regarding food safety versus sustainability. Third-party delivery companies and restaurant concepts will have a stronger focus on a touchless customer service customer experience. Micro social media marketing focused on community-based advertising will become a larger focus to reach out to customers. For example, homeowners associations, next-door neighbour sites, city blog pages.

Pre-shift employees temperature checks will be implemented as a safety process. The supply chain may see a dip in production for restaurant products as the commodity markets focus on retail production.

Restaurants may see a 3 to 6% monthly increase in sales growth as consumers venture outside followed by cash strapped consumers looking for value offerings. Restaurant concepts will invest in a drive-thru or pick-up window options in construction designs. Restaurant sites will become available as landlords try to secure tenants in vacate locations.

Concepts will reduce the dining room footprint as they continue to see a trend of more takeout and delivery. The employee labour market will continue to favour restaurant owners. Potential franchisees will be looking into how a franchisor responded to the COVID-19 crisis when picking a concept to invest in. Who knows what other revelations may evolve post-COVID-19. The only thing constant in our industry is change.

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