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COVID-19 by the Numbers: Restaurant Industry Impact

Online trends as diners and operators reacted to COVID-19 and adapted through their restaurant websites

As the world adapts to the profound impact that COVID-19/Coronavirus has caused on our daily way of life, restaurants have largely dealt with this unprecedented situation and many have adapted to a new reality. We analyzed data across 5,000 restaurant websites on trends starting at the beginning of March 2020 through May 2020 to gain insight into how restaurant operations and guest behavior dramatically shifted.

As cities began to instruct residents to stay indoors, practice social distancing and self-quarantine, catering and event tickets declined. Restaurants and bars elected to close to slow the potential spread. Governments suggested that no gatherings of over 50 people should take place, quickly turning to no more than 10. As cases grew, governments ordered restaurants and bars to operate takeout and delivery only. States ordered residents to shelter in place.Reservation requests declined and flattened across the U.S. (below). Restaurants began to pivot to new ways of generating revenue.


Reservation Requests During COVID-19/Coronavirus

Reservation requests across U.S. restaurant websites

As government mandates and regulations began to go into effect in mid-March, restaurants began using online catering to provide alternative offerings to their guests such as meal kits, wine retail, family meals and more. Online ticket orders also began to grow as restaurants got creative, selling tickets to virtual cooking/baking classes or future re-opening events, while directing proceeds to their staff.

On March 12th, gift cards, merchandise and online ordering for pickup and delivery sales began to trend upwards from the weeks prior. Industry personalities, chefs, restaurateurs and more advocated for guests to purchase gift cards to support their favorite restaurant’s bottom line, in hopes of using it when the dust settles. Merchandise sales also trended upward as restaurants began offering Community Supported Restaurant Shares, branded merchandise and ready-made meals-to-go through their online shops. Restaurants received government-mandated orders to operate online ordering for pickup and delivery only. It’s important to note that BentoBox first launched online ordering for pick up and delivery in February 2020.

Gift card sales increased dramatically across 5 states—collectively a 10x increase. New York gift card sales doubled every day from 3/14-3/17.

As the number of cases continued to increase, restaurant trends changed in real-time. The resilient nature of the industry is evident as operators and guests have learned new ways to support their favorite restaurants and continue to help their communities.

If you're a restaurant looking to get started with online ordering, gift cards, or merchandise sales on your website please get in touch with us here

If you’re a current customer who is looking to get started with online ordering for pickup and delivery, please reach out to your account manager.

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