Diners back in restaurants, but wouldn’t mind a price cut

06 July 2023 Consulting.us 2 min. read

Restaurant dining has returned to pre-pandemic levels, according to a recent Deloitte report, though consumers wouldn’t mind lower prices. The consulting firm in March 2023 surveyed 750 people who had ordered from a restaurant in the last three months.

Despite concerns that restaurants would never recover from the pandemic, 55% of consumer reported they dined in restaurants with equal or greater frequency than before Covid-19. Meanwhile, 69% said they ordered takeout or delivery at the same rate or higher than pre-pandemic.

Inflation concerns are front of mind, especially in groceries and restaurants, which have seen particularly steep price increases since the pandemic. As an incentive to order more, 37% percent of dine-in guests and 40% of takeout guests want less expensive options alongside promotions and discounts. Higher quality is a much less popular option, at 19% for dine-in guests and 15% for takeout.

Apps and automation are two avenues for restaurants to drive growth. Third-party delivery apps rose in popularity during the pandemic and have remained popular, with many restaurants setting aside dedicated spaces for pick-ups. Deloitte says consumers may be more likely to order from outlets that offer a frictionless experience for takeout and delivery.

Diners back in restaurants, but wouldn’t mind a price cut

Consumers are more partial to ordering through a restaurant’s own app or website – at least partly because it cuts out fees from third-parties such as UberEats and DoorDash. Though 13% of consumers use third-party apps, 40% prefer to order through a restaurant’s app or website.

Regardless of how an order is placed, 87% of consumers think a delivery fee of $5 or less is fair.

Appetite for disruption

Deloitte’s report notes that advanced technologies could shape the mechanics of restaurant operations and staffing over the next 10 years. With sector wages rising sharply amid labor shortages, large quick-service chains will be examining how to cut down on staff beyond simple ordering kiosks.

To that end, acceptance of kitchen automation is growing, with 60% of consumers saying they are at least somewhat likely to order from a kitchen that prepares food through robotic technologies – up from 54% in 2021.

Nearly half of consumers (47%), meanwhile, said they would order from a restaurant that delivers via drones or driverless vehicles – up from 44% in 2021.

“The restaurant industry is emerging from the pandemic with a menu full of opportunities to serve its customers, both in the dining room and off-premise. With large-scale changes potentially on the horizon, driven by advanced technologies and ongoing shifts in consumer demands and preferences, restaurants could look dramatically different in 10 years,” said Jean Chick, principal and US restaurant and food service leader, Deloitte Consulting.