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Restaurant guest sentiment on the rise, customers pay attention to safety: Black Box

May shows improvement versus April

Restaurant guest sentiment continues to improve month to month, according to a June COVID-19 business update from data-analytics firm Black Box. LSRs are improving their sales at a much faster pace than full-service restaurants and are taking a more cautious approach when it comes to reopening dining rooms. A major reason is that LSRs can afford to wait: Many of them have a good off-premises game, grounded in the drive-thru or curbside pickup experience. In addition, a majority of LSR orders are to-go.

Restaurant guest sentiment has been on the rise relative to the previous reported month of April. Overall, net sentiment stands at 20 percent for full-service restaurants and 10 percent for LSRs. (They were previously the same.) In particular, restaurant customers have been noticing a positive experience returning to dining rooms and safety & sanitation measures related to COVID-19. Full service has been gaining ground on net sentiment as states and local governments have allowed dining rooms to reopen.

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In May, guest service sentiment was 12.2 percentage-points better than last year, faring better than the 19.0 percentage-point year-over-year drop in the previous month, according to Black Box. Guest sentiment for food was 8.6 percentage-points worse than the prior year, but an improvement from the 11.6 percentage-point drop April experienced relative to last year.

Safety is top of mind for consumers, and masks used by restaurant staff draw much attention. The improper use of masks is a liability for restaurant operators, and often guests will call it out quickly. On the flip side, restaurant guests are quick to notice restaurants’ efforts in increasing safety and sanitation, which are a key, recommended part of messaging that consumers are looking for when returning to restaurants.

Photo credit: Max Titov (featured preview image)

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