Restaurants and their patrons will have to get creative as the cold weather draws nearer. Concerns about COVID-19’s resurgence and this year’s flu season will lead many people to continue ordering takeout and delivery to minimize risk. For foodservice operators looking to try new outdoor-dining tactics, like enclosing tables with tents, fancy “greenhouse” structures, or plexiglass, these experiments are perceived as mostly safe and appealing. All of these options can help operators prepare for winter and keep traffic up during the colder weather.

Another big marketing opportunity could be the holidays. Many consumers plan to reduce travel and the size of their gatherings for the December holidays, and are open to help from restaurants this year. More than three in five people anticipate COVID’s spread to get worse as temperatures drop and flu season arrives, but they also rate getting outside as important for beating cabin fever and staying active. Consumers making different holiday plans are open to using foodservice this year, particularly to supplement their meals with prepared side dishes, appetizers, and desserts. Meal kits and delivered meals could also drive sales, more than merely being open for dine-in traffic.

In this report, you’ll find data and insights around consumers perceptions of outdoor dining during the colder months, as well as statistics and trends to help operators prepare for winter holidays. Many consumers plan to rely on restaurant’s over the holidays. Check out Waypoint’s blog for recipes and holiday solutions. Key takeaways from this report are as follows:

  • 64% of consumers say, with flu season approaching they expect to stay home more to minimize the risk of getting sick
  • 63% of consumers believe that regardless of how cold it gets, getting outside more is important to their well-being while the pandemic endures
  • 61% of consumers expect COVID-19’s spread to get worse in the winter months
  • 40% of consumers believe it is relatively easy to make outdoor dining comfortable during the winter months
  • 68% of consumers say, the pandemic will cause them to gather with fewer people than they usually do for Thanksgiving and the December holidays
  • 47% of consumers are open to getting parts of their holiday meal from a restaurant
  • 35% of consumers are open to getting a holiday meal kit from a restaurant

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