COVID-19 Impact Report June 19, 2020

We’ve experienced a generation-changing disruption of the Food and Beverage Industry landscape with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Throughout it all, we’ve been supporting our clients to make the best decisions for their brand under these unprecedented circumstances. Now, as countries start to reopen, we are being asked new questions about how to adjust to the ever-changing environment. To help guide our clients this week, we have collected the following information for your consideration as of Friday, June 19th:

Overview

Traffic trends for the US, Europe, Asia and Middle East/Africa level off again.

In the US, traffic figures slipped from the prior week down to negative 15-20% YOY. Asia continued to see slight improvements, with traffic increasing to negative 20% YOY. After a post-Ramadan jump, traffic in the Middle East/Africa dropped back down to -25% for the current week. Despite efforts to reopen by some brands, Europe has continued to see traffic at negative 35 to 40% YOY.

For the US: 

QSR v. TSR

  • Overall, QSR saw a slight slowdown. Traffic slipped to negative 15-20% YOY and sales dropped back into negative territory – at 0 to negative 5% YOY. Even the normally robust drive-thru saw a slight dip. Traffic in the lanes increased to 15% and 20% YOY, while sales decreased to 40-45% YOY.
  • TSR continues to lag behind QSR. However, we saw improvements this week as more restaurants open dining rooms. Overall, YOY traffic and sales both rose by nearly 5 ppt this week; moving them closer to the negative 40% to 45% range for both metrics.
  • Delivery and ‘to go’ meals have started to decline within TSR. YOY traffic and sales for these channels dropped by about 5-10ppts; while ‘dine in’ sales and traffic improved by yet another 5-10 ppt, ending the week at around negative 60 to 70%.

By Dayparts

  • Lunch and dinner continue to lead, with traffic down 10-15% YOY and sales in the positive category, between 0 and 10% YOY growth.
  • Breakfast is trending slightly up this week, with YOY traffic down 20-30% and YOY sales down between 5-10%.
  • Late night continues to lag other dayparts, with YOY traffic down 20-30% and YOY sales down 10-20%.

By Food Category

  • Chicken continues to lead, although even this strong category saw a slight decline in the first weeks of June. YOY traffic is back into negative territory, between 0% and negative 5%. Sales dipped slightly, though are still showing positive YOY growth of 15-20%.

Regional/Category

  • Mountain, East South Central and West South-Central divisions continue to perform best with positive YOY sales between 0-10% and YOY traffic declines of 10 to 15%.
  • Coastal divisions (Pacific, New England, Middle Atlantic) continue to perform the worst, with YOY traffic declines of 20 to 25%. YOY sales are between 0 and negative 5%.

For Europe: Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Spain, France and others started to reopen three weeks ago. YOY trends continue to stall, with traffic fixed at negative 35% to 40% and YOY sales between negative 15% to 25%.

For Asia: YOY overall traffic remains negative but is showing continued signs of improvement. This week, we saw declines between 20% to 25% YOY, compared to negative 20-30% two weeks ago. Most restaurants can only provide delivery, take-out or drive thru services; dine-in/lobby options remain closed.

For Middle East/Africa: For the week ending 6/19, YOY traffic and sales dipped to negative 20 – 25%, a big setback from last week when sales were in the positive range and traffic was negative 15 – 20% YOY.

Outlook

Breaking the Routine

According to our latest survey, 1200 respondents in the US said the biggest reason for returning to restaurants is to satisfy a “desire to return to some normal behavior” or “return to a routine” for heavy users. These respondents also stated to be eager to get back to restaurants – 49% saying they would dine out the same or much more post-COVID, and 11% said they would dine out “as soon as I can.” These motivations have continued to lead to an increase in willingness to dine with every passing week.

Safety is Still top concern on Your Consumer’s Mind

While the desire to dine out remains, so does a need for restaurants to comply with safety and health guidelines. In our April global survey, respondents revealed that visible hygiene practices and minimal contact were the top two factors that most influence restaurant choices during the pandemic.

Risk perception and anxiety were also revealed as major factors in choosing when and where dining out will resume, according to in-depth interviews conducted with families in Seoul, London, Berlin and Dallas in May. The subjects, primarily moms, expressed a need to control exposure for their family. In May, this translated into continuing to use restaurants for drive-thru or takeout so they could take precautionary measures such as reheating food deliveries or pickup and wiping down containers and surfaces.

A third of employees wish to continue working from home despite higher everyday expenses 

Restaurants are likely to face continued change in commuter breakfast and dining routines as the US finds a path to the new normal. According to a recent survey commissioned by creditcards.com in the US in May 2020, 35% of employees working from home would like to continue doing so full-time after state and federal restrictions are lifted. Working from home could also put pressure on consumers to reduce overall monthly spend and “save money,” though reduced expenditures related to travel/dining out may be offset by consumers spending more on utility and grocery costs.

Pricing Activity

Consumers are accustomed to Delivery Premiums (3rd Party and Direct)

Since pandemic restrictions were implemented around the world, customers have ordered food online for delivery in unprecedented numbers. Guests increasingly adjusted to and, somewhat, understand the additional charges that come with the convenience of this service. As safe-at-home behavior continues, we are seeing evidence that customers are willing to pay more of a premium to have food directly delivered by the restaurant to avoid or circumvent third-party providers.

Reach3 Insights recently asked consumers why they were ordering delivery food directly from restaurants. They answered: 

 

Continued Pressure from Meat and Seafood Cost

In the initial throes of the pandemic, many were concerned about potential supply issues in response to COVID plant closures and supply chain disruptions. These fears have been dispelled, for the most part, in the restaurant and consumer markets, but inflation on these products has replaced the concern. Faced with myriad pressures during unit re-openings such as health and wellness costs, slow traffic recovery, food inflation puts more pressure on the bottom line. However, this isn’t an impossible task to handle. RMS CEO John Oakes has suggestions on P&L analysis and how this information can help brands work with suppliers – and franchisees and landlords – to survive.

Industry Strategy

Limited Menus Continue

Menus may be slower to return to their pre-COVD complexity even as more and more regions/dining rooms re-open. Continued labor and cost pressures, along with a desire to limit operational complexities, have led brands to keep their “slimmed down” menus. Though some of the ‘sacred cows’ may not be gone from the menu, consumers appreciate the speedy service, consistent execution and quality.

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.