Eating out after COVID-19: OpenTable diners weigh in [INFOGRAPHIC]

Dishes from Mister Percy. Image Supplied

As the coronavirus pandemic shakes the restaurant world, restaurateurs everywhere are wondering how diners have shifted their habits and expectations due to the crisis. Are they cooking at home more or leaning on delivery services? What are they most looking forward to when restaurants reopen? Most importantly, how will they think about safety when dining out in the future? 

We learned all of that and more in recent survey responses from nearly 10,000 OpenTable diners globally*, which we hope can help guide decision making as restaurants begin to open their dining rooms to the public. Check out the infographic below for insight on guests’ consumption habits, safety priorities, and hopes for the dining landscape to come – then read on for more takeaways.

COVID impact and how we’ll feel safe dining out

In April 2020, OpenTable surveyed nearly 10,000 diners in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia* to get a sense of how COVID was affecting how they interact with restaurants and what will make them feel good about sitting down in a dining room again. 

Takeaway is up

The proportion of people in the US ordering takeaway once a week or more for dinner increased 72% in April compared to pre-COVID. Numbers are up globally, too – 59%. 

In the UK, however, the proportion of people who ordered takeawy once a week or more for dinner dropped 19% from pre-COVID days through April.

And delivery isn’t far behind

The proportion of people ordering delivery once a week or more went up 62% compared to pre-COVID in the US. (And though takeaway was down in the UK, delivery was up 7%.) Globally, the proportion  of respondents ordering takeaway for dinner at least once a week increased 59% compared to routines pre-COVID. 

That said, 25% more people order takeaway one or more times per week than they do delivery.

More people are cooking at home

In the US, the proportion of folks who cook at home daily is up 17 percentage points from pre-COVID rates. Compare that number to the UK, where respondents reported a 21 percentage point increase.

Looking forward

When it comes to dining out, US respondents are most excited about visiting restaurants with the people they are currently social distancing with (55%). 

They reported that they are most looking forward to enjoying the ambiance of the restaurant (14%), connecting with friends and family (13%), and supporting as many of their go-to restaurants as possible (13%). Bottom line: your guests miss you and want to help you succeed.

Weighing risks and safety measures

We asked survey respondents how much they feel various activities put them at risk of contracting the coronavirus, from shopping at a grocery store to having food delivered. In the US, respondents reported they feel that curbside pickup is the least risky way of ordering food

Interestingly, the majority of respondents in states that are reopening (Texas and Florida) say dining out at restaurants is “high risk” or “somewhat high risk,” while 8-10% believe it’s “low risk.” Fewer respondents in major metropolitan cities believe dining out is “low risk” – only 3% in New York City, 5% in Los Angeles, and 4% in San Francisco.

Safety measures diners plan to take

Almost all (90%) of survey respondents in the US agree that handwashing is an “extremely important” measure they need to take to protect themselves from COVID. They also reported that carrying hand sanitiser will be key as markets reopen. 

Slightly more than 50% of respondents reported that pre-payments and mobile payments are “highly important” or “important” during the pandemic. This opinion drastically differs from the UK, where 72% of respondents believe that offering contactless payments is “highly important” or “extremely important.” Finally, 60% said it’s “extremely important” to visit places that aren’t crowded with other people.

Safety measures diners hope restaurants will take

Survey respondents in the US largely agree about what will make them feel safe eating out again: 72% said it’s “extremely important” to see strict cleaning policies. 

Showing that staff are wearing protective equipment such as masks and using hand sanitiser was “extremely important” to 37% of respondents. In New York City and San Francisco, even more (over 40%) say this is “extremely important.” 

However, 24% of people in the US said that checking diners’ temperatures before they enter a restaurant is “not important” or “slightly important.”

*9,915 people responded to the OpenTable diner survey through April 2020. “Pre-COVID” refers to the period prior to the announcement of governmental restrictions such as shelter in place, around March, 2020.

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