restaurants look into drive-thru | PYMNTS.com

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In 2021, the restaurant industry is doing much better than last year, but the rise of the delta variant threatens restaurants in the latter part of the year. On Tuesday (August 31), the National Restaurant Association released its mid-year supplement to the 2021 State of the Restaurant Industry Report, finding that sales are up sharply from last year.

Industry-wide, the report says, food and beverage sales are expected to reach $ 789 billion this year, a 20 percent increase year-over-year. In fact, according to data from PYMNTS, many restaurateurs even expect sales to exceed pre-pandemic figures. PYMNTS Restaurant Readiness Index 2021 data, created in collaboration with Paytronix, find that 42% of restaurant managers expect their 2021 revenues to increase from 2019, and 28% expect them to stay roughly the same. After all, this year restaurants are keeping the digital sales growth seen in 2020, while also enjoying a return to dinner.

See Also: Late Investing in QSR Loyalty and Reward Hurts Innovation and Sales

Take, for example, the Tastea tea and smoothie growing chain.

“We have customers who have gotten used to online ordering, and they continue to do so, but now we’re also gaining customers who haven’t adopted online ordering,” Ted, Co-Founder and Managing Member of Tastea. Vu told PYMNTS in an interview in June. “So as all of our lobbies become open to customers, we’ve started to win back a lot of customers who don’t like ordering through apps, so our sales actually tend to be higher than the year before. “

Read more: Beverage chain Tastea uses digital segmentation to relieve growing pains

However, despite all the hope that was in the air at the start of the vaccine rollout, the caps on vaccination rates and the rise in the Delta variant are starting to loom heavily over our heads. The association’s report noted that about 60% of adults change their eating habits in response to the variant, with about one-fifth of adults reporting that they have stopped eating. This presents a lose-lose, as a large portion of consumers are also pushing back against security measures. Almost a third of those polled said they were less likely to dine at a restaurant that enforces mask obligations and / or vaccination requirements.

“There’s a lot of anxiety – there’s the anxiety of putting your frontline staff at risk,” Paytronix CEO Andrew Robbins told Karen Websters in a recent conversation. “And you can put them in danger because of the delta variant. You can also put them less at risk by trying to enforce this stuff… Restaurants are in a difficult position right now where they are trying to set the rules themselves, because there really are no excellent guidelines or guidelines. uniforms on what to do. . “

Related news: Vaccination mandates are a lose-lose for frontline restaurant workers, says Paytronix CEO

Of course, most restaurants are in a better position to handle additional outbreaks of the virus now than they were in 2020, with updated online ordering options and offsite channels. PYMNTS data shows that 55% of chain quick-service restaurant (QSR) sales are made through digital channels, and less than a fifth of all restaurant sales come from on-site indoor dining. While the delta variant threatens to slow restaurant recovery, there is little risk that the coming months will be a repeat of the first few months of the pandemic for restaurants.

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