Changing Consumer Behavior Trends will Dictate Restaurant Industry’s Recovery this Fall

Hey neighbor — Fall is here, and outdoor dining is beginning to make its way back indoors. Meanwhile, restaurants like you are preparing to sustain pandemic recovery efforts through the holiday season — though concerned about how the Delta variant will impact consumer behavior. 

2021 customer dining trends

6 out of 10 consumers have changed their dining-out patterns because of the delta variant

19% of customers have stopped eating out due to the heightened risk from COVID-19.

Curbside Pickup icon

Online orders for Curbside pickup at fast-casual restaurants have grown since May of this year.

Customers are most likely to spend the most money when ordering on a mobile restaurant app. 

Customers are increasingly prioritizing restaurants close in proximity to them when ordering food.

What’s driving this trend in off-premise dining?

Fifty-eight million people continue to work primarily from home.

Corporate travel is expected to fall 70% below 2019 travel levels this year.

47% of online customers are placing pickup or delivery orders for the first time.

What can you do?

The key is to bring the food to where your customers are, whether at home, at work, or any other location where your customers feel safe. Many restaurants have implemented innovative drive-through and curbside pickup strategies, getting orders swiftly from the kitchen to the customer with limited contact. 

Other local businesses have partnered with corporate offices to set up in-office pop-ups, with the corporation providing subsidized food for employees who have returned to work in person. Such partnerships are beneficial for both parties as restaurants broaden their customer base while corporate companies maintain employee satisfaction by safely providing staff with convenient, quality lunch options.

Find what logistically works for your business and is safely convenient for your customers, and connect others in the neighborhood for partnership opportunities — You never know how helping others can help you. Be creative in your approach, as innovative solutions arise from newly unmet needs such as those brought about from the current pandemic.  


Chin, Ashley Johnson. “Serving up Well-Being during Mealtime in 2020 and Beyond.” Google, Google

A summary of Google’s consumer behavior data related to the impact of the global pandemic on online ordering and takeout dining.

Romeo, Peter. “Delta Variant Keeps More Business Travelers out of Restaurants.” Restaurant Business, Restaurant Business, Aug 31 2021,. 

Surging COVID-19 infections are expected to drastically reduce business travel, impacting the hospitality and restaurant industries.

Sam Oches 1 | Jul 27, Sam Oches. “How Consumer Behavior Changes Are Dictating the Restaurant Recovery.” Nation’s Restaurant News, Informa USA, Inc., Jul 27 2021,. 

This is the first in a series of monthly conversations between Nation’s Restaurant News and The NPD Group, exploring how the restaurant industry is recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The State of What Feeds Us Volume V .” Bluedot, Sept. 2021. 

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