Archive for the “Consumer Insights” Category

Scenes from Moody Street, the Area’s Latest Outdoor Cafe

Moody Street in Waltham has long been a key restaurant destination for the Boston area. The storefronts are packed with eateries, most smaller but a few chains as well. In response to the pandemic, the City of Waltham shut down Moody Street to cars and gave it over to the restaurants, turning it into a pedestrian-only boulevard with outdoor seating.

The response has been nothing less than spectacular, […]

Contactless Payment Goes Mainstream

Of all of the changes COVID-19 will usher into society, one of the most lasting and most prominent will is likely to be an aversion to touching shared surfaces, from door handles to pin pads. That aversion has only been part of the national zeitgeist for a few months, but has already accelerated the trend toward touchless payments.  

About 47% of American consumers are expected to use mobile wallets in 2020. Even two years ago, half of the United States’ stores – approximately 5 million locations – accepted Apple Pay, and 4 million accepted Google Pay.  

Before the pandemic, contactless payments’ biggest hurdle to overcome was security concerns, despite being more secure than traditional payment methods; but as public health concerns become society’s primary focus, lesser fears over security are likely to fall by the wayside.  

The most common form of contactless payment, via the mobile wallet, has big upsides for businesses even beyond public health and consumer comfort. Digital loyalty cards can be seamlessly linked to the mobile wallet, positively impacting penetration rates. Digital payments will enable pay-at-table features and make on-the-go transactions more convenient. And stored-value mobile cards, like the ones Starbucks popularized, will become more mainstream, providing businesses with small, interest-free loans.  

For more information on the benefits of touchless payments, check out this webinar: Is Touchless Payment the New Normal?    

Data Dive: Mother’s Day Bump Helps Ongoing Restaurant Recovery

In a trend happening nationwide, we continue to see a recovery among our restaurant clients. Looking at the week-on-week data we can see that the run of positive weekly results has continued, with each day an average of ~5% to 10% higher than the week before. Mother’s Day, however, showed two interesting trends. First, it was a massive uptick from the previous Sunday, but check sizes were also higher than visits, indicating that people visited more expensive restaurants, or at least were ordering food for more people at once.

There is always a bump for Mother’s Day, but the difference this year from the previous trend shows tremendous pent-up demand from the market. Clearly people wanted to spoil mom.

Still, when we look at the fixed-period chart that compares sales to a pre-COVID baseline, we can see that visits and spend are still down, but up from the bottom. We’re a long way from a full recovery, but the trendlines are headed in the right direction.

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Sales Show Slight Improvement

Industry performance and leading indicators of an improved outlook are top of mind as we enter week 8 of the COVID-19 crisis.

On the restaurant side, sales and visits bottomed out in late March and were down between 60 and 70 percent when compared to pre-COVID trends. Today things have improved so that sales are now “only” down 50 percent as compared with pre-COVID, up from a low of 60-70 percent.

In the chart below, you can see the following:

  • Beginning around March 12, 2020, restaurant sales declined rapidly, and by March 18 week-on week sales were down more than 50%.
  • The decline continued until late March, by which time sales were down ~60-70% from pre-COVID levels.
  • Sales stabilized from late March until around April 7, 2020.
  • Since April 7, 2020, we have seen sales start to recover. Every day (except two of them) has seen higher sales than the previous week. The large spike was caused by Easter Sunday.
  • ‘Overall, restaurant sales are up 10% from the time sales bottomed out in March and are now at approximately 50% of pre-COVID levels.

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