Predicting restaurants’ post-pandemic lifestyle

That the COVID-19 pandemic has changed foodservice forever appears evident. But how exactly will consumers interact with restaurants in a post-pandemic world?

Canadians have developed many new habits in how they go about their daily lives and access their food. Vince Sgabellone, a Canadian Foodservice Industry Analyst at the NPD Group, highlights five trends to watch when it comes to how foodservice’s recovery will proceed and what it will look like by the end of 2022.

Digital engagement

Digital growth has accelerated during the pandemic, and this trend will endure after COVID-19, writes Sgabellone. Going beyond the apps on our phone, digital has also been a catalyst for the gig economy, enabled operators to offer loyalty programs, and helped restaurant owners make up for labour shortages.

Closer to home, not the hubs

Our stay-at-home lifestyles these past two years have impacted restaurants that rely on a transient flow of potential customers – workers, shoppers, students, travellers. Even as the economy reopens, some of these activities will continue in the home, causing a shift in where, when, and how restaurant consumers access their next meals.

The lines are blurring

Restaurants experimented with new business models during the early days of the pandemic to survive, providing offerings like meal kits, groceries, and bottle shops. Now, as this trend endures, grocery stores, meal kit companies, manufacturers, and third-party delivery providers have jumped on board, offering new options for consumers to access the food they want, when they want it.

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From functional to experiential

As our stay-at-home lifestyles endured and restaurant visits diminished during COVID-19, Canadians moved away from routine/functional visits. They began seeking more indulgent meals when they accessed a meal outside their home. Restaurants will need to consider how to satisfy this demand for “something special” as we move through 2022 and post-pandemic.

Shifting demographics

As younger consumers see their spending power grow and older consumers age out of the workforce, how these cohorts spend in restaurants will likely cause a dramatic shift in the market. Consumers’ demands for brand loyalty, social consciousness, and food exploration will impact how restaurants engage with their customers.

Source: NPD Group