Lee Barnes
Lee Barnes
Lee leads the Data Insights team and is a self-confessed data geek who can often be found engaging with his team members and digging into all kinds of data.

Advance orders are the new reservations on NYE in 2020

In a typical year, most full-service restaurants would find themselves completely booked up with New Year’s Eve reservations by Dec. 29. Today, most are facing capacity limits or full bans on on-premise dining as we head into one of the busiest nights of the year for the industry.

Fortunately, there is a bright spot. In lieu of reservations, guests are placing takeout orders – and further in advance than years’ past.

Leading up to the Christmas holiday, Paytronix data showed advance orders for New Year’s Eve had tripled over the same period in 2019. While it’s unlikely that overall takeout orders on Dec. 31 will triple, the data does indicate that guests were placing their orders much earlier than usual. This may be indicative of the shift from reservations to online orders.

This year’s advance orders, while more plentiful, are generally smaller in size than in years past, most likely due to fewer catering orders for large, private parties.

In 2019, relatively few orders were placed before Dec. 25, but those that were averaged high check totals. Orders placed more than 8 days in advance last year had check sizes between $500 and $3,000, while 2020 has seen smaller checks – from $40 to $400 – placed anywhere from two to eight days in advance.

This likely means that while there are few parties planned to ring in 2021, many guests still plan to keep up tradition and celebrate with a nice meal in small groups at home.

C-Stores enter flattened recovery phase

Last week we looked at how restaurants are seeing a renewed recovery, even if the upward trend is smaller than before. 

When it comes to convenience stores, the trend is very different. C-stores had a much shallower drop at the start of the pandemic, which amounted to about half that of restaurants. They were helped by the fact that in most states, c-stores were put in the “essential” category, meaning that they could stay open even as other retail companies had to close up shop. Still, with traditional commuting patterns disrupted, c-stores took a bit of a hit. 

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The New Normal: Restaurants are growing again

Since the COVID crisis hit back in March we on the data team at Paytronix have been tracking the restaurant recovery. After an initial crash that’s been well documented, we saw a relatively consistent level of growth of about 0.4% per day starting in late March and extending right into June. This was the time that restaurants adjusted to the crisis, shifting their business models away from on-premise and over to takeout and delivery. 

Around mid-June, however, something changed and the market simply flatlined for the next 30 days. 

[…]

New Covid hotspots stagnate growth, but bring no new losses

The final weeks of June and early half of July ushered in a new era of the pandemic, as southern and western states that had largely evaded the worst of Covid-19 became new virus hotspots. The rising number of confirmed cases and hospitalizations forced many states to order restaurants shutter their dining rooms – again – and meant fewer drivers on the road as other businesses wound down operations. 

Despite the setback, Paytronix data shows that the restaurant industry’s recovery has slowed, but not reversed. In late March and into early April, restaurant sales dropped to 30% of pre-COVID levels.  Starting in the middle of April we saw sales recover at a rate of 0.4% – 0.5% per day, reaching 70% of pre-COVID levels by the July 4th weekend.   […]