Outdoor Dining Creates a Window of Opportunity as Restaurants Shift Operating Strategies
Last fall, we wrote about how many restaurants are increasingly turning to outdoor dining – regardless of changing seasons – to supplement their takeout and indoor dining while remaining in compliance with state regulations and mandates. The pandemic forced the industry to get creative with many restauranteurs shifting their customer focus to adding, or expanding upon, their outdoor dining options in preparation for winter.
There seems to be no shortage of creative ideas from restaurants vying to adapt to COVID-era dining experiences. The “Igloo” bubble concept has exploded throughout the country. In Atlanta, emerging technology devices are popping up in metro area restaurants looking for ways to keep their employees and guests safe. As the pandemic rages on, these shifts in operating models also provide people with options where they can seek more social settings while playing it safe in the great outdoors.
We shared some AQ data in October 2020 that displayed an increase of quoting volume in product categories including equipment suited for outdoor dining like heat lamps and outdoor seating and dining. We predicted we would see some additional shifts, both up and down, as the calendar turned much of the country to winter as we closed out the year. Let’s take a closer look at some updated numbers from AQ.
Outdoor Dining By the Numbers
AQ has unique insight into quoting and pricing trends of equipment in outdoor-related categories. We tracked these trends through increasing quotes on corresponding products listed on our platform. Notably, these changes correlate with the timeline of restrictions being lifted around the country and preparedness for prolonged shifts in weather.
As previously shared, summer months saw a spike in demand for seating options under our outdoor chair categories alongside heightened interest in outdoor grills. Interest shifted in late September with a surge in quoting volume for patio heaters as restaurants prepared for temperature drops in the coming months. This trend correlates with the notion that outdoor dining was on the rise and demand continued despite weather impediments.
Quotes for stackable chairs and bar stools remained high with a peak in quoting volume registered in early October and resurgences throughout the rest of Q4. Quoting specific types of items depends on what the outdoor spaces could specifically adapt for and – understandably so – many restaurants were seeking flexible options to maximize use of their space.
Overall, this data is consistent with the varying degrees of reopening phases of areas around the country. While bitter temperatures present an additional challenge, people still seem eager to visit restaurants as these experiences provide them with a feeling of normalcy. Restaurants can anticipate continued patronage and expect spikes in visits as we approach spring.
While fluctuating spikes in COVID cases continue affecting the restaurant industry, continued product innovation and creativity prove key to weathering the pandemic. AQ subscribers have access to hundreds of products and PPE listed on AQ to support their customers who may be shifting their in-dining strategy.
Related Links: A Closer Look at Outdoor Dining in the COVID era