Bars and restaurants across the country have been severely affected by the COVID-19 health crisis in ways that were previously unimaginable. In the past few months, most bar and restaurant owners have had to completely overhaul the way they do business and their typical routines and procedures. So how are bar and restaurant owners changing their businesses? Here are a few trends that our friends at the National Restaurant Association have noticed in their partner establishments.
Because most of the country issued mandatory shelter-in-place mandates, reports show that over 90% of restaurant traffic moved to off-premises food service. This includes service categories like drive-thrus, order-ahead pickups, to-go pickups, delivery and online ordering. Of course, now that stay-at-home orders are lifting throughout the country, many business owners are eager to welcome back their dine-in customers.
So how are some owners dealing with the new normal? Many have begun incorporating new technology measures in order to keep customers and employees feeling safer. With almost 80% of consumers still feeling some amount of nervousness about the safety of dining out, new contactless payment measures are growing in popularity. According to the National Restaurant Association, most consumers agree that contactless payment is the safest form of payment, followed by traditional credit card use. In fact, consumers who have access to contactless payments are now 58% more likely to use contactless payments in response to the coronavirus pandemic. In response, many bar and restaurant owners have temporarily banned the use of cash payments in their establishments for the safety and comfort of their customers and employees.
Is this going to be the new normal? No one can say for sure, but the National Restaurant Association says business owners should prepare for some permanent changes to their business, just as many citizens are preparing for permanent changes to their way of life. In fact, an estimated 4% of the U.S. market share will likely permanently shift to solely home-cooked meals due to health and safety concerns unearthed by the COVID-19 crisis.
In order to keep that number from rising, there are a few key steps business owners can take right now in order to help employees and customers feel safe. The first thing is to keep your establishment safe and clean, and have proper social distancing procedures in place before you welcome back customers. Business owners also need to be firm about wearing masks, keeping distance, and maintaining proper hygiene protocols with both their staff and customers. According to the National Restaurant Association, 83% of consumers believe that restaurants should ask patrons to leave who are not adhering to social distancing procedures.
Obviously, the coronavirus pandemic has changed the bar and restaurant industry more than anything else in recent memory. With resources like webinars and articles from the National Restaurant Association, small business owners can begin to learn how to best adjust to what many are predicting will become the new normal.
How has your small business changed in response to COVID-19? Let us know in the comments below.