Delivery, drive thru and click & collect step up during Coronavirus

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According to global information company The NPD Group, there was a +20% increase in food deliveries in China during the last 10 days of January when Chinese government restrictions began to be implemented. January data from China – where restrictions implemented late that month impacted the foodservice industry in specific cities – affected different foodservice channels in different ways. As would be expected, full-service restaurants, coffee bars and cafés were hardest hit. The quick-service restaurant channel was relatively stable because selected outlets were able to migrate quickly to delivery services.

Dominic Allport, insights director (Foodservice), The NPD Group, said: “We know from anecdotal evidence in China in January that consumers continued to support foodservice outlets that they knew well, and that there was still strong demand for food and beverages that can be consumed off the premises. Any local outlet offering delivery, drive thru or takeaway by click & collect, along with outlets providing pre-packaged food and beverages or vending machines, will be able to mitigate some of the effects of the inevitable business downturn prompted by the coronavirus outbreak.”

Foodservice establishments such as pubs and restaurants are typically crowded locations in which people eat in close proximity to others, where there might be hygiene concerns regarding table surfaces, or where pre-prepared food is on display in a buffet format. Fortunately, some 62% of Britain’s foodservice consumption happens outside the premises in which it is ordered.

The already burgeoning delivery channel is ideally suited to the advice to minimize person-to-person contact. Since 2017, delivery visits have grown by almost +19%, or nearly 100 times faster than the 0.2% visits growth seen in the overall British out-of-home foodservice industry. Delivery visits now account for 8% of the total out-of-home (OOH) or eat-out foodservice market in Britain, and 9% of spend. Digital delivery visits – where consumers can order by app or online – account for nearly two-thirds (64%) of all delivery visits – 24 percentage points higher than 2017.

Allport added: “With the British government advising us to avoid pubs and restaurants, where people eat on the premises, consumers will understandably turn to the foodservice channels that allow them to minimize human contact. Delivery, drive thru and click & collect provide the opportunity to continue ordering in food and beverages in that manner. These channels can provide much-needed business to some of Britain’s hard-pressed foodservice operators.”

Consumers in Britain can choose more than just delivery to order food and beverages. Drive thru has increased its footprint in British foodservice significantly and now offers consumers almost 2,000 drive thru outlets in Britain. In 2019, there were 508 million drive thru visits with spend of £2.5 billion, up nearly +19% since 2017 and with those visits making up nearly 5% of the entire British foodservice industry. Coffee operators such as Costa Coffee and Starbucks have also invested in drive thru, and coffee servings at drive thru outlets have grown 12% since the end of 2017.

Click & collect also allows consumers to continue ordering takeaway food and drinks with minimum social contact. Click & collect has grown by +28% in visit terms since 2017 and spend has reached £929m in 2019.  Finally, consumers can also use vending machines or buy pre-packaged items from a variety of outlets.