‘Insperiences’ Key to US Foodservice Recovery as 22% of Consumers Say They Will Stop Eating Dinner Out-of-Home Due to COVID-19

LONDON — US consumer uncertainty around the spread of COVID-19 has put unprecedented strain on the country’s foodservice sector with revenues expected to fall this year by over 35%, from $760bn in 2019 to $490bn in 2020, with full recovery not anticipated until after 2023, according to latest research from leading data and analytics company GlobalData. 

Restaurants face a particularly tough time with 36% of US consumers saying they plan to eat lunch and dinner out-of-home less frequently. Furthermore, 22% of consumers confirmed they will stop eating dinner out-of-home altogether and 20% of consumers expressed the same sentiment for breakfast. Full recovery for the restaurants sector is not expected until after 2023, however the impact of the pandemic will still leave the market 15% down on prior forecasts. A key age group will be 25-44 year olds, with 68% of this cohort planning to order more meal deliveries and takeout, compared to 39% across all other age groups.

Fast food outlets are faring slightly better than most with consumers generally feeling more confident and operators having better penetration in curb side and delivery. In early April when 32 states had initiated lockdowns, 25.6% of US consumers said they were visiting fast food outlets less frequently and 42% confirmed they had stopped completely. By early June, although the number of consumers saying they visited less frequently had increased to 32%, those saying they had stopped completely fell by nearly a quarter to 32%.

Coffee shop visits are also slightly improving with the number of consumers reporting stopping their visits to coffee shops completely between April and June falling from 44% to 39%, with only 23% of consumers saying they visited less frequently than before the pandemic started.

Lewis Towell, Consumer Analyst at GlobalData, commented: “Affordable ‘insperiences’ provided through curb-side pickup and home food and beverage deliveries should be a crucial consideration for operators who are increasingly finding that they are unable to re-open on the same basis that they operated on prior to the pandemic.

“Over the past four weeks, the stay at home sentiment has risen slightly, but steadily, with approximately 34% of US consumers now planning to eat meals out-of-home less frequently and a further 21% planning to stop entirely. So, until the threat of COVID-19 is removed or measures are put in place to make consumers feel more confident in a foodservice environment, meaningful sector recovery is some way off.”