Food on Demand
In the early days of COVID, grocery stores were cleaned out of staples and shuttered restaurants started selling items like bread, milk, eggs and toilet paper for pickup and delivery, eking out a little cash and providing a service for customers. But as the pandemic dragged on, restaurateurs began expanding their selection, adding house-made items such as granola, baked goods, sauces, soups, pasta and full meal kits and cocktails to-go. Some expanded to online sales, developing a revenue stream that helped sustain them through many months of shutdown. Grocery shoppers have taken a definite online turn since the onset of COVID-19, and many still see the pandemic’s impact on store shelves, a new study from CPG sales and marketing firm Acosta finds.
Forty-five percent of consumers report shopping online for groceries more now than before the pandemic, according to Acosta’s “COVID-19 Shopper Insights: Which Habits Are Sticking?” report, released yesterday. Meanwhile, around a third of those polled said they’re shopping less at grocery stores (30%) and at mass retail stores like Walmart and Target (35%) versus pre-pandemic. The findings stem from online surveys of Acosta’s proprietary shopper community conducted between July 1 and July 6.
For both restaurants and their customers, food delivery was an essential lifeline during the COVID-19 pandemic. WSJ reported in April that around 70% of last year’s U.S. food delivery growth was “purely due to the pandemic,” and delivery orders haven’t slowed down in 2021. According to a special report by QSR Magazine, as of March 2021, restaurant digital orders for delivery had lifted 140% compared to the previous year, suggesting that consumer preference for delivery was not exclusive to the COVID era.
“It’s unlikely that digital ordering will grow at the same pace it has during the pandemic once restaurants fully open, but it’s table stakes for restaurants now,” said David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor, in the QSR article. “Digital ordering is all about elevated convenience and ease and that’s what makes consumers tick.”
For the last year, the U.S. restaurant industry has survived by any means possible, enduring against some of the most challenging market conditions in modern history. According to the National Restaurant Association (via Fortune), more than 110,000 U.S. restaurants closed temporarily or forever in 2020.
To survive, many restaurants had to redefine everything about themselves. But, first and foremost, they had to become more flexible to fit into the patchwork of laws that guided (and continue to guide) our states and our cities through the rising and falling swells of the pandemic.
One restaurant here on Local As Can Bee that has met the challenges head on is Poquito Mas. Their motto is “We think you’re worth it.” They’re not part of a food chain and every single day they are in their kitchen early preparing over 45 items from scratch - including corn & flour tortillas, guacamole, veggies, steak, chicken, South Pacific Ahi and Carnitas.
Local As Can Bee offers restaurants like Poquito Mas the opportunity to sell some of their products online, and we hope you will support small business owners like them. Customers like you make all the difference!