India: Foodservice & restaurant sector in the post-corona world
The Covid-19 crisis that is currently sweeping the world is going to have a lasting impact on our society. From the way we do business to the way we interact with each other and from the way we communicate to the way we socialize. The lockdowns, social distancing and restrictions on movement that are in place across the world are causing businesses to suffer today. One industry that is going to see lasting changes is the Food & Beverages sector, with respect to both in-home consumption as well as out of home consumption.
No one in their wildest imagination could have imagined or anticipated the scale of changes that we are witnessing today. Additionally, there is no certainty (even amongst the experts) as to when the things will return to normalcy, if at all they will or what the new normal will be. With the number of unknown factors about the Covid-19 pandemic and its implications, it is not possible to comment with certainty on how the industry landscape, customer habits and customer attitudes will evolve in a post-Covid-19 world. However, there are certain changes that we can definitely expect to see.
What does this monumental disruption mean for the out of home consumption restaurant Industry? Below, I have organized my thoughts on the Out of Home Consumption Sector. I would be happy to have your comments and opinions to add to the discussion such that we all march into the post corona world wiser and with clearer anticipation of what is in store.
This sector is characterized by restaurants in their various forms – QSRs, Fine or Casual Dining, Cafés, Pubs & Bars, Ice Cream Parlors and Dessert Stations. Man was, is and will always be a social animal and these locations provided the third place outside of home and office to meet, interact, mingle and socialize. Now with social distancing being the norm, there is an inherent fear for people to step out and get together the same way as they did earlier. So in the near future (till a foolproof vaccine/ cure etc. is found) there will be some hesitancy to come out in large numbers. A fear has set in, demand will certainly be a casualty.
Pre-corona, the industry was in a growth phase spurred on by the delivery aggregators and the cloud kitchen formats, with a large Millennial population armed with a smart phone, which enabled the industry to ride the consumerism wave and growing at a reasonably fast paced clip. All that came crashing to a grinding halt with the Government imposed shutdowns due to the corona crisis. As and when the restrictions are lifted, the restaurants will have to get back to welcoming customers back to their locations.
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