In today's COVID-19 Briefing webinar, we presented a deep dive on consumer behavior in the Northeast.
What's happening in the Northeast region?
The Northeast was a coronavirus hotspot a few months ago, especially in New York. COVID-19 case counts in New York State peaked in early April.
Severe lockdowns ensued, causing a steep drop in restaurant foot traffic in the region. For a few months, the Northeast was one of the lowest-performing regions in terms of bar and restaurant visitation.
Positive COVID-19 cases started declining in late April, even as testing increased. By late July, New York City had entered Stage 3 of its reopening plan, and as of August 17, NYC is in Stage 4 - the final stage of reopening.
Most of the Northeast has followed suit. Vermont, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania have fully reopened, and New York and Maine are in late stages of reopening. Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey have paused their reopening plans due to increases in case counts.
Overall, the Northeast is faring relatively well.
Consumers are going out to eat again, and Northeast restaurants are getting a much-needed reprieve
In June, restaurant foot traffic started trending upward in the Northeast. And in July, foot traffic in the region outpaced the national average.
The Northeast region skews more urban than the rest of the country. Increased traffic in the Northeast coincides with Urban DMAs closing the gap with Suburban and Rural DMAs - and now, Urban DMAs are almost on part with the national average in terms of foot traffic to bars and restaurants.
Dinner is the winning daypart for Northeast restaurants.
Restaurant visits during Dinner have increased by +25 percentage points compared to the strict COVID lockdown period from March to June. Northeast restaurants have seen almost twice as much growth during Dinner as the national average, which only saw a +13 ppt increase in Dinner traffic.
Which states are faring best?
When it comes to bar & restaurant foot traffic, New Jersey and Connecticut are outpacing the national average by the widest margin.
Which consumer segments are driving growth?
From a consumer segmentation perspective, the Northeast is more concentrated with affluent, premium-focused segments. Many of these consumers are in white-collar professions that have allowed them to work from home throughout the pandemic, unlike their blue-collar or service industry counterparts in other segments.
Now that lockdown restrictions have largely lifted, these affluent white-collar segments are returning to restaurants. The composition of restaurant visits has recently shifted, with a greater percentage of visits coming from these segments.
What are the decision drivers for these consumers?
Consumers in the Northeast over-index on several decision drivers compared to the national average.
These consumers care more about things like healthy choices and trustworthy cleanliness practices, and they are less concerned with things like value and deals/promotions.
Interested in more insights?
Download the slides to see the full analysis.
Next Webinar: Deep dive on Club retailers
Club retailers like Costco, Sam's Club and BJ's suffered big declines in foot traffic in late March, down as much as -10% in share of foot traffic. But the Club channel has made a big comeback in recent weeks, and is now one of the best-performing food retail channels, behind only Dollar and Supermarket.
What's driving Club's improved performance? Join Friday's webinar for a deep dive analysis.
Join us on Friday, August 28th, from 9:30-10am Pacific.