At onset of dark winter of trepidation, consumers fear local restaurants to fare worse in colder months

New wave of coronavirus may curb restaurant operator confidence

Recent survey data by trend-tracking firm Datassential identify some of the challenges of the winter ahead for restaurants. In many areas, traffic is down and the coronavirus is spreading rapidly, potentially cramping operator confidence, which had been on an uptick. Restaurant operators face a winter in which more than 60 percent of consumers are either not working overall or working/attending school from home. A total of 25 percent of respondents indicated they were working or learning from home and 38 percent said they were not working overall

As a sign that consumers are hunkering down for the winter, 64 percent of consumers agree that they’ll stay home to minimize the risk of getting sick as they enter flu season, while 17 percent disagree. Moreover, 61 percent of respondents agree that COVID-19 will get worse in the winter months, while only 15 percent disagree. And 62 percent of consumers agree that winter will make it harder for their local restaurants to stay open as they have during the pandemic; 15 percent disagree.


During these challenging times, forty-four percent of consumers avoid eating out, which is 2 percentage-points higher than late October. And thirty percent of consumers are nervous but will still eat out—that number is down 9 percentage-points since the end of October, presenting a curious juxtaposition.

At the onset of this new wave of coronavirus, restaurant operators had been more hopeful—perhaps as a result of how close it is to the end of the year now and the recent good news about the vaccine. A total of 12 percent of operators were feeling very nervous that their business may not be able to fully come back, but that’s down 2 percentage-points from late October. Fifty-eight percent of operators said they were worried, but fairly confident they would get through in one piece, up 5 points and picking up 2 percentage-points from the (aforementioned) “very nervous” category since late October.

And additional data from Datassential indicates operators are invested in off-premises business, but opportunities still abound. Seventy-three percent of restaurant operators offer carryout, 44 percent offer curbside pickup and 34 percent offer delivery. Certainly, restaurants have the ability to improve on these to-go order numbers. Although new restrictions may put a dent in on-premises dining these next few months, 60 percent of operators are offering indoor dining and 42 percent offer outdoor seating.


Half of restaurant operators had to lay off staff due to COVID-19 crisis, but started to hire some back, while 11 percent of operators have been able to hire all staff back.

To dive deeper into the coronavirus impact on the restaurant industry, navigate to the Datassential information page.

Photo credit: Louis Hansel (featured preview image)

About the publisher of this restaurant news site.

Leave a Reply