Off-premises dining now comprises a larger portion of overall sales than it did pre-pandemic in all six major restaurant segments (family dining, casual dining, fine dining, quick service, fast casual, and coffee and snack).1 No doubt, the demand for takeout will remain strong in the coming months as summer temperatures and higher vaccination rates prompt consumers to seek a convenient way to dine outside—and take leftovers home.
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The challenges of 2020, including business closures and social distancing guidelines, catapulted the demand for takeout and delivery to new heights over the past year—and may have forever changed consumers’ relationship with the foodservice industry. Indeed, more than half (53%) of consumers surveyed by the National Restaurant Association say takeout and delivery have become "essential to the way they live.”1
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As if there weren’t already enough incentive to maintain the momentum for takeout and delivery, the pandemic keeps pushing off-premises to the forefront of foodservice. As COVID-19 resurfaces at record levels in reopened states, restaurant operators again find themselves navigating this all-too-familiar roadblock on the road back to dine-in traffic.
As government restrictions on restaurant operations loosen, the industry seems to have shifted focus from eating as few losses as possible to feeding the bottom line. Opportunities and challenges abound in this transitional period of social distancing, hypervigilant hygiene, and dependence on delivery and takeout. The “new normal” of modified operations and changing consumer demands is here for the long haul, even as much of it continues to evolve.
Let’s face it: We could all use a little schooling when it comes to taking advantage of the opportunities for increased sales and customer loyalty that the back-to-school season presents. Providing healthy options is a hot trend across the foodservice industry, and schools are no exception to the rule.