Indians rushed to tourist spots such as Manali, Shimla as soon as the state governments started easing the restrictions put in place to curb the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Indians don't seem to share the same level of enthusiasm of going back to dining at restaurants now that restrictions have been further eased.
A recent survey undertaken by consulting and analytics firm Economix Consulting Group (ECG) has revealed that a majority (61% of respondents) of middle class and upper-middle-class Indians prefer takeaway, or home-delivery of meals post the pandemic-induced lockdown. The survey was conducted in Chennai, Bengaluru, Mumbai, a few other metros and smaller cities in India.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic struck India, almost 75% of respondents used to dine out at restaurants. According to the findings of the study, there is a significant shift towards preferring takeaway or home delivery over dining out among all categories including homemakers and working professionals.
Commenting on the finding of the study, Latha Ramanathan, Founder & CEO, Economix Consulting Group (ECG) said, "From our study, it is evident that diners do not expect to return to dining at restaurants immediately after easing of lockdown restrictions. The shift to home-delivery/ takeaway is here to stay."
Dine-out restaurants are in for a bumpy ride post COVID-19 second wave as only 11% of respondents wish to dine at restaurants once lockdown eases. However, in Bengaluru half of the respondents stated that they are highly inclined to go out post lockdown. While the people of Chennai and Mumbai are not so enthusiastic about dining out immediately after the relaxation of restrictions.
"Restaurants should take this time to focus on building trust with consumers, as diners exercise extreme caution in choosing where to eat/order," Ramanathan added.
After the second wave of the pandemic, safety and hygiene factors have become even more important for customers. Almost all (approx. 98%) respondents rated cleanliness, hygiene and COVID safety protocol as important factors they would like to consider prior to dining at restaurants. Over 95% of diners admitted that they would feel comfortable visiting restaurants that clearly communicate protocols in dining and kitchen areas.
"Measures such as strengthening of social media presence, innovative branding and packaging techniques and spreading awareness of hygiene and safety protocols followed at the restaurant will go a long way in bridging the trust deficit with patrons," explained Ramanathan.
The survey findings also mention a sharp shift towards franchisee and fine dining restaurants with considerable importance being given to recommendations from family and friends while choosing venues.
Chennai might see a huge shift in its eating-out culture post the second wave. Before the pandemic, 60% of diners in Chennai preferred eating at standalone AC and franchisee restaurants, now reduced to 50%. As per the survey, people in Mumbai will continue eating at the restaurants they frequented during the pre-COVID period.
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