NEW YORK—As of June 8, most restaurant traffic continued to be takeout or delivery only, with 12% of customers opting to dine inside, SmartBrief reports. That number is slowly inching up, as people want to eat in restaurants again. Some localities are creating open-air cafes by closing streets or allowing restaurants to co-opt sidewalks to allow for socially distant dining.
But will what worked before to drive traffic to restaurants work in today’s climate? Here are some of the latest ideas on how restaurants can get customers back inside, according to Mike Kostyo, trendologist at Datassential:
Upping traffic anytime of the day. Now that no one wants to eat in a crowded restaurant, eateries can “flatten the daypart curve by helping consumers understand when those peaks are by using options like apps and websites to show how busy their operation is at any given time,” Kostyo said.
Combo pricing. Many restaurants pivoted to family-style meal deals for carryout or delivery during the pandemic and could easily transfer those to dine-in specials. For example, “buy one meal for dine-in right now and get another for takeaway to enjoy for lunch or dinner the next day. Those types of combos could resonate with consumers who still aren’t going to restaurants quite as often as they might have pre-COVID,” according to Kostyo.
Messaging. Let customers know about specials or dine-in availability through social media, email lists and loyalty programs. “Using the wide range of messaging options will only be more important in the months ahead. Consumers report that they’ve had trouble getting correct information about operators during COVID, particularly with new policies and regulations changing so quickly,” Kostyo said.
NACS has compiled resources to help the convenience retail community navigate the COVID-19 crisis. For news updates and guidance, visit our coronavirus resources page.