COVID-19 Impact Report July 3, 2020

Coronavirus numbers are beginning to rise, causing closings or safe-at-home orders in some states, and concerns about a return to consumer trepidation.

We will continue to help our clients manage through these unprecedented circumstances 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 3rd.

Overview

In the US, traffic remained at last week’s levels – down 10 to 15% YOY. In Asia, traffic figures also stabilized and are down 25% YOY.  The Middle East/Africa showed a slight improvement, though not significant enough to push them out of the post-Ramadan floor of negative 30 to 35% YOY.  Europe is also showing no change from the past week and remains down 35 to 40% YOY.

While traffic trends for all regions were constant for the week ending June 21, US restaurants may experience a downturn in upcoming weeks due to increasing coronavirus cases in some areas and the subsequent re-closing of restaurants in California, Texas and Florida.

Across Europe the outlook is more positive — some travel restrictions are being lifted and Germany and Austria cut value-added tax (VAT) for restaurants, cultural establishments and tourism in an effort to help those sectors bounce back.

For the US: 

QSR v. TSR

  • QSR traffic and sales continue to rise slowly. This week,traffic increased 1-2ppt, though still down 10 to 15% YOY. Sales continue to show a neutral-positive YOY change of 0-5%.
    • The performance of QSR is still mainly driven by drive-thru, with YOY traffic growth at 15 to 20% and YOY sales growth of 35 to 40%.
    • Dine saw a slightly positive trend since the reopening of dining rooms in various regional areas. Between June 14 and 21, dine in increased 2-3ppt. Traffic remains down 65 to 70% YOY, and sales down 65 to 70% YOY.
  • TSR: Between June 14 and 21, TSR saw vast improvements as more restaurants opened up dining rooms. YOY traffic and sales both rose 1-2ppt this week; moving them closer to negative 35-40% for both metrics.
    • Delivery, ‘to go’ meals and dine-in trends all improved slightly this week.  YOY traffic and sales increased by 2-3 ppt; both metrics showed growth of above 100% respectively.
    • ‘Dine In’ sales and traffic improved by the same 2-3 ppt, though still down 50-60% YOY.

By Daypart

  • Dinner started to outperform lunch by 1-3ppt in the middle of June. YOY traffic for both occasions improved from YOY declines of 15% in May to YOY declines of 10% for the most of June. Dinner sales remained about the same between May and June, growing at 5 and 10% YOY.
  • Lunch sales decreased in the past month.  In June overall YOY growth was between 8-10%. In May sales grew between 12-15% YOY.
  • Breakfast is seeing a slight increase. Traffic improved from negative 30% YOY in May to negative 20% YOY in June. YOY sales declines improved from negative 10% in May to negative 5% in June.
  • Late night continues to lag other dayparts. Traffic for the segment is down 20-25% YOY and sales down 5% YOY.

By Food Category

Chicken continues to lead other categories with YOY traffic between 0% and negative 5%. Sales are positive but are growing at a slower pace than in May —YOY growth was 15-20% this week.

Regional/Category

  • Mountain, East South Central and West South Central divisions continue to perform best with positive YOY sales between 0-10% and traffic down 5-15% YOY.
  • Coastal divisions (Pacific, New England, Middle Atlantic) continue to see the most negative impact. Traffic has lingered at declines of 10 to 20% YOY and sales are negative to neutral between -5 and +5%.

For Europe: Many European countries started to reopen for dine-in customers over the past month, and the UK plans to reopen July 4. However, YOY trends continue to hover at previous weeks’ levels, 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.

For Asia: Despite the fact that dine-in options (or “lobbies” as this service is called in Asia) are available again in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and Singapore, traffic and sales are lingering at past levels. Traffic is down 25% to 30% YOY and sales are down 25% to 30% YOY.

For Middle East/Africa: Traffic and sales figures for the region remain down YOY at negative 30 to 35%.

Outlook

New Coronavirus Waves May Cause Recovery to Falter

As noted above, recent increases in COVID daily cases have thrown some states back into ‘closing’ mode, and bars are the most likely target. Sense360 dug deeper into the correlation between case spikes and bars with a deep dive into Gen Z and Millennial consumers. Despite the fact that COVID-19 hospitalizations are increasing most quickly in those 18-49, these generations remain the least likely to see COVID-19 as an “even bigger threat than we realized.” Gen Z and Millennials are also the most eager to return to restaurants, according to our May/June survey of 1,200 US consumers.

Permanent Restaurant Closures in the Face of Hardship

According to our latest survey of 1,200 US consumers, 13% of respondents who were eating out “more or much more” post-COVID, were driven by the desire to support local restaurants. Yet slowed recovery and renewed industry closures may be the death knell for some restaurants already battered by events of the last 3 months. OpenTable recently shared data “pointing to the grim reality that up to 25% of restaurants in the U.S. might permanently close due to the pandemic.” For more on this topic, visit Yahoo Finance.

Pricing Activity

An Uncertain Summer and Fall

When and if restaurants should take price increases has been a common question from our clients lately. With high levels of uncertainty around regional COVID trends and an increasingly sluggish market recovery businesses are facing severe headwinds as we head into fall.

Our recent survey suggests consumers are steeling themselves for higher prices — 79% of respondents expected restaurant prices to increase as a result of COVID. But how much is too much? And what drivers are guests more understanding of? For these answers and more, make sure to explore our latest consumer report.

Industry Strategy

The path forward is blurred with uncertainty, but RMS is ready to help navigate this unknown landscape and create a data-driven plan for recovery and profit.

 

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.