Impact Report August 14, 2020

With the continued increase in the demand for contact-less services restaurant concepts are exploring how they can integrate ghost kitchens into their operations to meet demand while delivering a positive and safe customer experience.

To help our clients navigate this ever-changing environment we collect the latest restaurant data and consumer insights that allow them to make the best decisions for their brands. The following information for your consideration is as of Friday, August 14:


While the coronavirus pandemic is ebbing in some of the countries that were hit hard early on, the number of new cases worldwide is growing faster than ever. The number of cases worldwide leveled off in April after social distancing measures were put in place in many of the areas with early outbreaks. But as countries began to reopen in May and June some were unable to contain a resurgence of the disease, making it one of the main drivers of rising case numbers around the world.

As a result the US YOY restaurant traffic remained mainly in line with the prior six weeks, trending between negative 10% and 15%. The Middle East/Africa and Europe both saw slight improvements in YOY traffic with the Middle East/Africa now trending at negative 10% to 15% and Europe between negative 20% and 25%. Asia’s YOY traffic numbers remained in line with prior weeks, stabilizing at negative 20% to 25%.

For the US


QSR numbers remained at the same level as the prior three weeks for both sales and traffic. Traffic trended between negative 10% and 15% YOY, while sales is still flat to positive 5% YOY.

  • Drive-thru continues to outperform other areas within QSR restaurants, with YOY traffic continuing to show  between 15% and 20% growth and YOY sales trending at 35% to 40%.
  • With many dining room restrictions and social distancing guidelines still in place, dine-in YOY traffic and sales continue to be down 65% and 70%.

TSR continues to lag behind QSR, but further improved slightly this week. Traffic and sales are now down between negative 30% and 35% for both traffic and sales.

  • Delivery and to-go meals increased slightly this week and are up 100% YOY.
  • Dine in traffic and sales increased slightly again this week compared to the prior two weeks, trending now at negative 50% to 55%.

Regional / Category

  • Mountain, East South Central and West North Central continue to perform best this week with sales ranging between 0% and +5% and traffic between negative 5% and 15%.
  • We saw slight improvement in the Pacific and New England divisions this week compared to others with YOY traffic trending between negative 10% and 15% and YOY sales between negative 5% and 5%.

For Europe

YOY traffic trends increased this week while sales dropped slightly. YOY traffic figures increased to negative 20% to 25% and sales trend at negative 5% to 10%.

For Asia

YOY overall traffic and sales show a slight negative trend and ended between negative 20% to 25%. YOY sales also decreased from the prior week trending between negative 25% and 30%.

For Middle East/Africa

Another positive move for the region after a poorer performance in the prior week. YOY traffic ended between negative 10% and 15% and sales up between 5% and 10%.


Dampened Consumer Outlook and “The Return to Normal”

An increase in positive COVID cases over previous weeks and continued fear over health and safety continues to impact consumer outlook. In Sense360’s latest survey, respondents continue to “push back” their predictions as to when things will “return to normal” — 80% of respondents think it will take at least 2 months before restrictions end and 44% believe it will take more than 6 months before we return to normality. This negative shift in consumer sentiment may translate into an even slower recovery for many markets, regardless of changing regulations.

Reduced Menus: Necessity or Opportunity?

In the early days of the pandemic, many restaurant brands quickly limited menus in response to new market conditions. With traffic slashed, a limited menu allowed them to manage operations with fewer staff, to ensure speed of service, and to respond to supply chain disruptions. What started as crisis response has turned into a trend, at least for the remainder of 2020. But what are the benefits of reducing your menu? And how do you create a smaller menu that increases profitability, and keeps customers happy? When is it time to bring items back? Resume innovation? RMS’ Justin Pridon shares the top seven reasons to simplify on the road to recovery and what pitfalls operators should avoid.

Pricing Activity

Mid-Day Focus

Adjustments to work and commuter schedules have shifted peak business hours and created longer shoulder periods. In our latest US consumer survey, all generations agreed that their breakfast habits had changed substantially, a fact that is reflected in the traffic declines during breakfast peak times. Consumers have continued to dine out in the morning, just much later, and savvy brands are using the opportunity to introduce more snack oriented items, design targeted promotions and even launch new products to tap into this new day part. These initiatives have added value and helped businesses drive additional profitability.

Industry Strategy

Continued Rollout of “Delivery Only” Brands

Restaurant groups continue to find ways to explore non-traditional expansion through the creation of “Delivery Only” brands that share the parent’s kitchen. Some recent examples include: “The Wing Experience” (Smokey Bones), It’s Just Wings (Brinker) and Neighborhood Wings (Applebee’s). With table service all but stopped, these brands pivoted to delivery with a high-demand product that fits their flavor profile. Local and smaller restaurant chains have also found ways to capitalize on this, differentiating their core concepts and providing unique menus for delivery.

Re-engagement of Digital Loyalty

With a continued – and likely long-term – shift to digital ordering platforms, concepts with a well-thought-out loyalty program are now at an advantage. At the start of the pandemic, sign-ups to loyalty programs increased and guests continue to use, especially when online ordering is tied to loyalty program perks (for example, members-only offers and favorite order features). The programs generate recurring revenue, for example, Panera recently reported that its loyalty members used the brand 6 to 10 times more than non-members, and provide a platform for promotional messaging that is cost efficient and customized to a guest’s purchasing behavior.

Looking for new ways to reach customers during these unprecedented times? Reach out to us today for practical recovery strategies designed to optimize menu profitability, sales and financial profitability immediately.

Let’s start your recovery strategy

Now, more than ever, RMS is committed to doing all we can to support the restaurant industry. Our team of experts is ready to help put you on a path toward profitability.