With restaurants, bars and cafes across the country ordered to close indefinitely last week as the UK Government stepped-up its response to the Coronavirus crisis, supermarkets up and down the country have faced a significant surge in demand.
Many have reported a shortfall in the immediate availability of household essentials as a result of shoppers panic buying.
While restaurants are no longer able to operate as usual, they are still allowed to function as dark kitchens offering delivery.
A survey conducted by CGA last Wednesday (18 March) showed that just over half (53%) of the public are either currently using, or planning to use, delivery as an alternative during the current crisis, with 13% getting delivery from a restaurant or takeaway either for the first time, or more often than usual, in the last two weeks.
Given that this research was conducted before Prime Minister Boris Johnson placed the country into lockdown, those figures may well have changed, but CGA adds that looking to the future, 72% of those that had either upped the use of delivery or had used it for the first time in the last two weeks suggested that they were likely to continue this behaviour regardless of the Coronavirus outbreak.
However, since the lockdown was announced, a number of businesses - particularly those within the major fast food space - have ceased operations entirely in a bid to protect staff and communities.
“With major fast food and sandwich chains like McDonald’s, Greggs, Pret and Burger King now closing, local operators who are able to keep their kitchens open for delivery could play a vital role in taking the strain off of the supermarkets,” says Peter Martin, vice president of CGA.
Brands to announce yesterday (24 March) that they were temporarily halting operations entirely include coffee chain Caffè Nero, and Indian restaurant group Dishoom.
Others, however, have said they will continue trading as a takeaway and delivery service including Eggslut, which currently operates a single site in London’s Notting Hill; and healthy fast food chain Leon, which says it will continue to keep its sites open to customers where NHS teams and other essential workers still rely on its services.
In an interview with BBC Radio 4 yesterday, Leon’s CEO and founder John Vincent said that 50 million meals were eaten out of the home and that at the moment supermarkets were struggling to pick up on the surge in demand with everyone switching from foodservice supply chain to supermarkets at the same time.
He added that Leon would be turning some of its restaurants into shops for the delivery companies such as Uber Eats and Deliveroo “for the last mile of logistics” so that they could send food that was meant to go into the foodservice supply chain to people’s homes; and that 100% of profit made as a result of the business continuing to trade during the Coronavirus crisis would go to serving the NHS.