Coronavirus

Restaurant Order Volume Falls 36 Pct Amid Coronavirus Closures

Restaurant Transactions Dip Amid Coronavirus

In much of the United States, restaurants have been ordered closed, except perhaps for takeout service, amid the coronavirus pandemic.

For example, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker ordered restaurants and bars to close on March 17. That’s St. Patrick’s Day — a day (and night) that’s huge in the Bay State.

So, what’s going on at the bar/restaurant near you? Its business reduced to whatever takeout service the place can grab?

A new NPD Group report, which offers research to retailers, said business is probably not going well. NPD reports that total transactions in the U.S. for chain restaurants it tracks dropped by 36 percent in the week that ended March 22.

That’s the week of St. Patrick’s Day. Clearly, a lot less celebrating was going on at the 70 chains that NPD tracks.

This NPD reporting offers a quick, weekly view of how such restaurants are doing compared to the same period a year earlier.

NPD reported: “Customer transactions at quick-service restaurants, which represent the bulk of restaurant industry transactions and have more off-premise business than full service restaurants, decreased by 34 percent in the week ending March 22 compared to year ago.”

At full-service establishments, which of course rely heavily on dine-in sales, the drop-off was even steeper. Customer transactions fell by 71 percent.

According to NPD, some kind of restrictions hit about 94 percent of U.S. restaurants that week.

Meanwhile, about half (52 percent) of restaurant industry dollars are due to dine-in traffic. The rest are due to carry-out business, drive-through and delivery, or “off-premise.”

But online orders represent only a small share of restaurant orders, only 13 percent of off-premise dollars.

“It’s highly probable that this crisis will define winners and losers by their digital proficiency,” said David Portalatin, NPD food industry adviser, in a prepared statement. “Now that we’re living in a world where the entire industry is an off-premise business, digital orders gain.”

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