COVID-19 Impact Report July 10, 2020

Coronavirus numbers are climbing again, causing markets to “tighten up,” in the words of Dr. Fauci, and pause or scale back reopening.

We will continue to help our clients this ever-changing environment with restaurant data and consumer insights that allow them to make the best decisions for their brand. To help guide our clients this week, we have collected the following information for your consideration as of Friday, July 10th.

Overview

For the week ending June 28, 2020: YOY traffic for the US and Europe declined by 1ppt compared to the prior week. Overall traffic for the US is down 10 to 15% YOY; traffic in Europe is down 35 to 40% YOY. Restaurant traffic in Asia is still trending at negative 25 to 30%, with subtle signs of improvement. The Middle East/Africa region saw the greatest improvements this week moving to negative 25% to 30% YOY from negative 35% to 40% the prior week.

For the US: 

QSR v. TSR

  • QSR traffic and sales stalled this week, with traffic down 10 to 15% YOY and sales between flat and positive 5% YOY.
    • Drive-thru continues to drive QSR performance. Traffic is up 15 to 20% YOY and sales are up 35 to 40% YOY. Overall, growth has slowed down. In mid-June we saw sales increases of as much as 50-60% YOY in mid-June.
    • ‘Dine in’ seems to be bearing the brunt of the increase in COVID-19 cases. The sector saw a drop of 1-2ppt, its first drop in more than a month. YOY traffic and sales are both down 65 and 70% YOY.

TSR (Table Service Restaurants), surprisingly, saw improvements this week, as some states are continuing to open. YOY traffic and sales both rose another 1-2ppt this week. Overall, the sector is down 30-35% YOY for both metrics.

  • Delivery, ‘to go’ meals showed a slight decline this week and dine in showed a slight increase.
  • YOY traffic and sales metrics for delivery and ‘to go’, even with a slight decline, both show growth of above 100% respectively.
  • Dine in sales and traffic improved by another 2-3 ppt; down 45-55% YOY compared to the prior week’s numbers of negative 50 to 60%.

Regional/Category

Setbacks continue as more markets in virus hotspots consider (and enact) returns to previous restrictions. This includes re-closing dining rooms, restricting alcohol service in bars and mandating lower capacity in order to combat. This will especially affect the Southern markets in the U.S. that were some of the first markets to reopen for business. We will be watching regional trends closely and will provide more insights in next week’s report.

  • Overall, Mountain, East South Central and West North Central performed best this week with YOY sales ranging between negative 5% to positive 5% and YOY traffic trending at negative 10 to 15%. Though, a state by state analysis may reveal issues in states such as Texas and Florida that are reclosing.
  • Coastal divisions (New England, Middle Atlantic, South Atlantic) saw the most negative impact. Traffic declines of negative 15 to 20% and YOY sales ranging between negative 5% to positive 5%.

For Europe: 

Many European countries started to reopen for dine-in customers over the past month, with the UK joining them on July 4. However, YOY trends remained at last week’s numbers with traffic fixed at negative 35% to 40% and YOY sales trending at negative 15% to 25% YOY. This is a combination of lack of foreign demand, some independent restaurants still being closed and residents still working from home.

In future weeks, we may see a jump for the UK. On July 8, it cut VAT from 20% to 5% on food, accommodation and attractions for six months and launched a vouchers initiative to encourage people to eat out in August.

For Asia: 

Dine-in options (or “lobbies” as this service is called in Asia) are now available again in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and Singapore, though overall traffic has stalled at negative 25% to 30% YOY. Sales remain down 25% to 30% YOY.

For Middle East/Africa:

This week, the region saw big performance improvements, with YOY traffic now trending at negative 20 to 30% and sales between 0 and negative 10% YOY.

Outlook

Breakfast Business still Hurting

As reported in last week’s impact report, Breakfast continues to be most hit in terms of traffic. One of the most competitive dayparts pre-COVID (especially in QSR), work-from-home behavior, combined with high levels of unemployment and reduced travel, all contributed to the decline in numbers.

In our latest consumer study, we asked 1,200 U.S. consumers from every generation if their breakfast habits had changed. Respondents reported a substantial change in behavior, particularly among Gen Zers and Millennials – see chart below. To learn more about attitudes toward dining by generation, download our latest report: COVID-19 Impact on Restaurant Consumers July 2020 Update – Generational Insights.

To-Go Alcohol Here to Stay?

Many local ordinances allowed for the sale of alcohol “to-go” as a way to supplement restaurant income during a particularly precarious time. In some U.S. markets, these allowances are now being written as laws allowing for a more permanent revenue source as part of restaurant’s carryout platform. Particularly for local establishments, to-go craft cocktails and other to-go beverages paired with popular entrees is an opportunity to increase average check.

Pricing Activity

Digital ordering presents a profit opportunity

The pandemic created a significant shift in how guests interact with and order from restaurants, and operators are rapidly adapting to meet customers’ needs. QR codes for dining in, digital menus for carryout/delivery and third-party ordering platforms mean that there is more diversity than ever in how a menu is presented to the guest – and each can have an effect on purchase behavior. Despite the overall negative effect on the industry, the new ways of ordering deliver an opportunity to increase profitability using both traditional menu engineering efforts and tailored pricing for now-popular items.

Industry Strategy

With delivery and carryout continuing to be a major revenue center even as markets reopen, now is the time to design an item strategy focused on portability and quality. Re-evaluating current offerings and researching new items can help both dining room and carryout revenue centers and also appeal to a wider range of guests. For example, as guests continue to eat outside the dining room, evaluate a shift to items that travel well yet are high in food quality as opposed to traditionally large (or complicated) items.  

We realize these are stressful and unprecedented times. RMS is here for you. Reach out to us today if you are looking for practical recovery strategies designed to optimize menu profitability, sales and financial profitability that can be implemented by operators immediately.