Johnny D’agostina digs into a pizza outside Quattro restaurant on Hanover Street in the North End neighborhood of Boston, MA on June 11, 2020.
Craig F. Walker | The Boston Globe via Getty Images
As states reopen, consumers are going out for meals more often, but about a quarter are still not using restaurants at all and some have a higher level of discomfort about in-restaurant dining than in April, a new survey found.
A Bank of America survey of 1,000 people on June 18 found that about 32% do not think they will be comfortable dining in a restaurant until 2021, up sharply from the 20% in a similar survey in April.
Less than half — or just 48% of respondents — said they expect to feel comfortable dining out at some point before Labor Day, down from 58% in April.
Consumers are using restaurants a bit more than they did in April, but they continue to use them at a lower frequency than before the state shutdowns. Respondents also ranked restaurant employees wearing masks and taking their temperatures as the most important practices at restaurants, over guests having their temperatures taken.
The frequency of restaurant visits has improved since April, but is still well below pre-virus levels. The percent of respondents who use restaurants one to three times a week, increased to 59% from 55% in April, and that compares to 67% to 69% before the virus outbreak. About 20% said they used restaurants four to six times a week previously, but that fell to 13% in June from 14% in April.
The percent of consumers who do not use restaurants at all fell to 25% from 28% in April, but it’s still well above the 8% to 9% that did not use restaurants pre-Covid. The survey data shows a big increase in at-home cooking with 60% of respondents saying they are cooking more at home now than before the pandemic, but that is down from the 65% in April.
Other habits have changed as well, including morning coffee and breakfast. In the June survey, 12% of respondents said they were getting most of their coffee from a national chain, up from 10% in April but down from the 19% to 20% before the outbreak.
That could be important for Dunkin’ Brands, Starbucks and McDonald’s. “We continue to think national coffee chains (DNKN, SBUX) and brands with bigger breakfast dayparts (MCD) will have a tougher time fully recapturing prior sales levels following disruption to the highly habitual daypart,” wrote Bank of America analysts.
The analysts also said restaurants are adapting to off-premise dining better than they expected.
“Limited service chains generally saw same store sales declines of 25% in late March, however in recent weeks we have heard sales are up 5%-40% at some of the large quick service chains and flat to down modestly at a handful of the larger chains,” they wrote. “Casual dining is generally running down 15-25% in reopened markets vs down about 60% in markets that remain closed.”
BofA also noted that about 52% of respondents were either laid off, furloughed, working from home, or working fewer hours, compared to 59% in April.