As the long, long story of COVID-19’s effect on foodservice continues, the delta variant is wreaking havoc on restaurant business amid varying consumer confidence and mixed opinions on COVID-19 restrictions.
Six out of 10 U.S. adults said they have changed their restaurant habits, according to a survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association Research Group.
19 per cent of consumers said they have completely stopped going to restaurants altogether as a result of a resurgence in cases in many jurisdictions, while nine per cent said they have cancelled existing plans to go out to a restaurant in the last few weeks.
Thirty-seven percent said they have ordered takeout or delivery instead of going out, and 19 per cent said they prefer to eat outside than inside.
“For an industry that requires a ‘full house’ every evening to make a profit, this is a dangerous trend,” Sean Kennedy, NRA’s executive vice president of public affairs, said in a press release. “These changes indicate declining consumer confidence that will make it more difficult for most restaurant owners to maintain their delicate financial stability.”
Forty-one percent of respondents said they didn’t change their behaviour. That category was mostly made up of baby boomers and Republicans.
The result appear to suggest that consumer confidence in the safety of dining out may be waning, as well as reflecting ill feeling among some of the public about new heightened restrictions that have been brought into effect.
32 per cent of the NRA’s respondents said they would be less likely to visit a restaurant that has a mask requirement in place, and the same amount would be less likely to go to a restaurant that has mandated proof of vaccine as an entry requirement.
However, the majority of diners don’t seem to be impacted by these requirements. 25 per cent said mask mandates would actually encourage them to go to a restaurant, while 43 per cent said masking up indoors wouldn’t impact their decision to go to a restaurant.
When it comes to vaccine requirements, 33 per cent of adults say those mandates would make them more likely to dine in and another 35 per cent said this rule wouldn’t impact their decision to dine out.
It’s a truism in life that you can’t please everyone, something that’s no secret in the restaurant business, and that’s clearly displayed by this data. Whatever operators do, they are likely to upset around a third of their potential patrons.