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Consumer Trends

What do diners need to feel comfortable going back into restaurants?

New Technomic data reveals that outward displays of stepped-up sanitation practices are important for building consumer trust.
Photograph: Shutterstock

More hand sanitizer dispensers as well as visible displays of restaurant cleaning will help customers feel comfortable returning to dining rooms amid the coronavirus pandemic.

That’s according to new data from Restaurant Business sister company Technomic, which looked at consumer sentiment around returning for dine-in service around the country and particularly in Georgia, which was the first state to allow for the resumption of on-premise restaurant service.

About 55% of all consumers surveyed expect to see more hand sanitizer dispensers to make them feel “safe and comfortable” inside restaurants, and another 56% said they’d like to see staff “visibly cleaning” high-touch areas.

Also high on the list of diner demands are having all employees wear gloves, seeing fewer tables, and single-use condiments, utensils and menus.

Even with those protections, 1 in 5 Georgia residents surveyed said they would be avoiding all restaurants during the COVID-19 crisis.

Before the pandemic, half of all Georgia residents said they frequented restaurants more than once a week. That number dipped to 29% in the midst of the crisis. Nevertheless, about half of Georgians said they were still engaging with restaurants at least once a week even amid the coronavirus.

It might take some time, though, for all consumers to feel fully ready to return to their pre-pandemic behaviors.

About 20% of those surveyed said they would not return to normal activities until a vaccine is approved and the virus is widely contained, and 15% said they wouldn’t resume regular behavior until COVID-19 is completely contained.


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