Checking the Industry’s Pulse

How is Coronavirus affecting operators and consumers?

Compiled by Liz Barrett Foster

Datassential has surveyed operators and consumers about the coronavirus pandemic and compiled the resulting data into a collection of reports. We’ve combed through the reports to collect statistics that will be interesting and relevant to you, our readers.

To access the complete reports, visit

Datassential polled 1,000 consumers in early April and found: 

  • 21% are nervous, but will still eat out at a restaurant, while 64 percent are avoiding eating out.
  • Consumers are interested in pop-up groceries hosted by restaurants, with over 70% of Gen Z, Millennials and Gen X most interested in items such as bread, produce and fresh meat and seafood.
  • DIY and take-and-bake kits are a hit, with consumers favoring comfort food kits, build-your-own pizza and build-your-own tacos or burritos.
  • Millennials (80%) and households with kids (81%) show the most interest in full 3- or 4 course family meal deals.
  • More than 70% of Gen Z and Millennials are interested in seeing things from restaurants such as cookbooks, virtual classes, tasting menus and virtual game nights.

Datassential polled 426 restaurant decision makers in late March and found:

  • 67% of restaurant operators are worried, but fairly confident that their operation can make it through this in one piece.
  • 25% have closed completely for the time being rather than offer takeout or delivery.
  • 34% have not made any menu changes in response to the Coronavirus.
  • 20% of restaurants have added new online ordering or pre-pay abilities they did not offer previously.
  • 44% of operators say it would help if they had unlimited access to cleaning supplies and food safety necessities.
  • 64% of QSR and 60% of fine dining operators need help getting the word out to customers.
  • 61% are prepared for the Coronavirus crisis to last three to six months.

Datassential polled 45 K-12 operators in late March and found: 

  • 69% have made zero cuts to the staff.
  • 67% are open for takeout or delivery (74 percent curbside), while 31 percent have closed completely for now.
  • 42% of K-12 operators say they feel confident knowing what steps to take during this crisis since they are accustomed to detailed safety regulations.
  • 47% believe the Coronavirus crisis will be over in 30-45 days.

Datassential polled 51 college and university operators in late March and found: 

  • 47% are open for takeout or delivery, while 51% have closed completely for now.
  • 25% have made zero cuts to the staff, while another 53% let go of 75% of staff.
  • 63% are worried, but fairly confident the operation will get through this in one piece.
  • Among C&U operators still open, 96% have decreased their purchasing and 80% have narrowed menu offerings.

Datassential polled 47 healthcare foodservice operators in late March and found: 

  • 28% are still open for business, including for dine-in, while 66% have closed dine-in and are offering takeout and delivery.
  • 56% of sales are down, with the higher-margin side of visitors and employees taking a hit. 
  • 87% have made no staffing cuts.