Covid-19: One in ten to use foodservice delivery for first time

Foodservice delivery is growing in popularity with UK consumers in lockdown – and new research shows that it is agining plenty of new customers.

Consumer research company, The NPD Group, has found that one in ten in the UK are set to try foodservice delivery for the first time as a result of the situation caused by the escalating Covid-19 coronavirus crisis. It also said 8% of existing foodservice delivery customers will increase their usage as a result of the current health emergency.

NPD has established a ‘Covid-19 British Foodservice Sentiment Tracker’, which gauges the attitudes of UK consumers. Its latest results from a survey of 520 people – generated before the prime minister’s address to the nation last Monday urging people to stay at home – suggested nine out of ten felt the temporary closure of out-of-home or eat-out establishments was sensible.

NPD defines the British out-of-home foodservice market as quick-service restaurants, including burger and bakery chains, casual dining brands, pubs, full-service restaurants, travel & leisure sites, supermarkets, workplace canteens, and vending machines. NPD also indicated there is significant potential for this market to increase its delivery capacity in these times.

The supermarkets have felt significant pressure on their websites as people seek home delivery in times of restricted social activity, with Sainsbury’s, Tesco, and Waitrose among those aiming to prioritise the elderly and vulnerable with deliveries.

Many local restaurants, bars, hotels, and smaller shops across the UK have been quick to roll out new online grocery and food and drink services to meet demand, and take pressure off the supermarkets.

However, one senior figure at a national pub and restaurant operator told Essential Retail that it was not cost efficient – and arguably not safe – for organisations like theirs to keep online and delivery services open.

NPD’s survey, which was conducted on 20 March, found almost four in ten respondents were already using delivery services, but 42% said delivery services are either not available where they live, or that they do not use delivery services.

Some 53% said they will return to eating out once the Covid-19 pandemic subsides and when British foodservice outlets are permitted to open in a conventional manner. In addition, 24% indicated they will eat out more often than before.