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As Restaurants Reopen: Resolutions for the “New Normal”

Aug 19, 2021 Franchise Information

It’s not a matter of “if” anymore. Restaurants are opening.

At the same time, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce estimates families are sitting with excess cash from the pandemic, amounting to at least $90 billion, equal to about $2,368 per Canadian.

Financial Post Economists anticipate that a chunk of these savings will be spent on things that were made unavailable or unappealing by the pandemic, such as dining out.

As a result, we’re seeing a surge in willingness to get back to restaurants and to spend money, especially for families, millennials, and Gen Z.

There’s an eagerness to celebrate graduations, birthdays, and anniversaries that had been otherwise postponed. There’s also a desire to celebrate the smaller, more intimate joys, such as meeting up with friends for the first time in over a year.

Emotions are high, and expectations are higher for the “new normal”.

Are FSR’s ready?

Ready To Spend

Canadians amassed a considerable amount of savings in the midst of the pandemic. Largely unable to physically shop and eat outside of the home, patrons held on to their cash with hopes to be able to spend again in the future.

According to a Capital Economics forecast, Canadian households were set to save $200 billion more in 2020 than 2019 as well as another $50 billion above pre-pandemic levels in the first half of 2021.

Ready To Socialize

While many millennials have graduated with financial responsibilities, including debt, many are without other large expenses.

Instead of taking out hefty mortgages, more and more millennials are choosing to live with parents longer, focusing on saving, but also enjoy unique travel and food experiences with others.

Not only do millennials eat out more than non-millennials, but they also spend more money eating out.

According to Restaurant Marketing Labs, Millennials spend about $174 per month dining out in restaurants, on average. Furthermore, 87% of millennials say they’re willing to splurge on a nice meal out, even if money is in short supply.

With that kind of buying power and behaviour, restaurants are wise to make their appeal to millennials who are looking to get out, have a few drinks, and socialize with friends.

As for Gen Z, McKinsey partner Bo Finneman had this to say:

“We’re really looking at them as the core influencers today that have a really big impact on both millennials and Gen Xers in terms of what they buy. In size, they will definitely reach scale in the next ten to 15 years, but it’s about their influence today—that’s what’s so important.”

Check out the podcast Meet Generation Z: Shaping the future of shopping for more insights on Gen Z.

Ready To Work

The pandemic accelerated trends in remote work, e-commerce, and automation, with up to 25% more workers than previously estimated potentially needing to switch occupations.

This is especially true when it comes to restaurant staff, as working remotely simply wasn’t an option. As a result, many people were forced to find alternative work in other industries.

It’s then no surprise that restaurants across Canada are struggling to rehire servers and cooks as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

So, what can be done to entice great servers and cooks back to the food industry?

It’s never been more important to listen to your team, engage with them, and make them feel truly appreciated and valued for their work. Morale is key.

It’s also crucial to create a safe and welcoming environment where returning and new employees feel comfortable and protected, squashing any hesitations.

Ready To Return To Normal

While the post-pandemic recovery hinges in part on the habits of Canadians, there is hope that the excitement around a return to “normal” will help to make up for lost time.

It’s not an easy challenge ahead for FSRs, but the “new normal” has arrived — and it’s time to get on board.

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