New data show that full-service restaurants as we know them may not fully recover from the coronavirus crisis until 2025.
It’s not all bad news though, as the data published by FSTEC Community shows that restaurant sales are expected to rebound strongly next year, with full-service restaurants taking until 2023 to recover. That means that the restaurant recovery over the next few years will be led by fast food, casual and limited-service restaurants.
Essentially, regardless of whether a vaccine is developed early next year, the pivot to drive-thru and takeout will remain in place for some time to come. Full-service is not expected to rebound until 2025.
With customers hesitant to go back to full-service restaurants, they are becoming more comfortable with dining at home. Meanwhile, the accelerated development in restaurant tech like booking apps for takeout orders and the investment in ghost kitchen real estate means that the restaurant landscape will look very different to how it did last year.
“We’re going to see a different industry,” said Joe Pawlak of food services consulting company Technomic. “But certainly one that will continue to thrive long-term.”
The percentage of people who dined out more than once a week declined from 51% before the pandemic to 34% since then. Meanwhile, the share of those who dined out less than once a week increased from 26% to 34%.
Not that we need data to confirm what we already know, but people are eating out less often than they did before the pandemic. The pivot to working from home has also affected lunch trade, as people have got used to spending more time at home.
Even a ‘best-case’ scenario where limited-service restaurants recover quickly, the sector will still be down as much as 13% on 2019 figures.
In a nutshell, the coronavirus crisis could see the next few years dominated by off-premises and digitally enhanced operations, despite a strong consumer demand for restaurant food, in whatever form it takes.