Reopening Tips for Restaurants
Datassential recently released a report to help you navigate reopening amid coronavirus concerns. Here are their findings.
of Americans are avoiding eating at restaurants
of Americans are nervous, but will still eat out
of Americans have no concerns over eating out
Americans' avoidance of eating out
Conversations around reopening are top of mind with consumers and in the media. Some states are already talking about reopening, even as experts warn that the country needs more testing. While it will ultimately be left to the states to decide when the timing is right, most Americans are still very concerned and not ready to jump feet first back into normal pre-COVID life.
Concerns have persisted since mid-March, with two-thirds of Americans continuing to be very concerned and hugely worried about their own personal health. That being said, avoidance of eating out is trending down from the prior peak. Avoidance of dining-in is starting to show signs of softening and there has been some movement in demographic segments. Gen Z and Gen X have become more concerned, but there have been declines in that sentiment for Boomers, who are perceived to be most at risk from Coronavirus.
Navigating the "new normal"
As dining-in starts to reopen across America, restaurants can expect customers to proceed with more caution. They will vary in their risk tolerance and willingness to dine in. Each will come with their own desires, expectations and timelines in this new era of dining. Restaurants can bring some certainty back to the dining process by setting clear expectations to help diners navigate the “new restaurant normal.” People willing to dine in now will need very little reassurance. The more cautious “fence sitters,” who will evaluate the safety of each situation, will need more coaxing, but will also represent the biggest opportunity for growth.
Half of diners will consider dining-in
When restaurants reopen, America will consider dining in. More than half of diners would at least consider dining in at a restaurant right away after it reopens. Males, Millennials and households with kids are more likely to be ready as soon as they open. That being said, almost half of Americans feel May 1st is too soon to reopen businesses. Operators who demonstrate enhanced efforts around social distancing may have an advantage in re-engaging diners.
Bringing back the dining-in experience
The first customers returning to restaurants will want to savor it. When asked whether their first trip back to a dining room should be a quick, streamlined affair to minimize their risk of exposure to Coronavirus or a full-length dining experience, consumers are split across all demographic cuts, with one notable exception. People who indicate they “absolutely” would return to restaurants right away tend to want the entire eating experience they’ve been missing. Those who wouldn’t return right away nonetheless think restaurants should speed things up to make dining out safer.
Diners support tactics that promote social distancing and sanitation. When it comes to staying safe at restaurants, diners are appreciative of just about anything that keeps them away from others and minimizes exposure to the virus. Tactics that get too personal, like requiring proof of wellness or taking temperatures, are less popular. As you might expect, the most risk-averse are supportive of almost anything that reduces the possibility of exposure.
Tolerating inconvenience as restaurants open
Initially, consumers are willing to tolerate some inconvenience. Americans are getting used to maximum capacities and waiting in lines at grocery stores, so they are fully supportive of social distancing maneuvers for a safe experience dining-in. While most still support tactics that might inconvenience them to a degree, like pre-ordering before seating or cashless payments, they don’t rank quite as high. As you’d expect, these are “good to have” for most willing to dine in right away, but much more important to those who might or wouldn’t consider dining in now. Taking extra precautions that don’t require the diner to be too inconvenienced may help to coax the more wary to start dining-in sooner.