One in five consumers have returned to on-premise establishments in Georgia, Tennessee, Florida and Texas — states that have begun the reopening process following the shutdown forced by the novel coronavirus disease COVID-19 — according to a new survey conducted by Nielsen CGA.
Nielsen CGA, the market research firm’s on-premise channel data arm, conducted a survey of 1,600 consumers in those four southern states between May 9 and 11. The firm found that just 10% of consumers in those four states have returned to an on-premise establishment for a drinking occasion, while 21% of consumers in those states said they had dined out at a bar or restaurant.
Nevertheless, many consumers are still weary of returning to on-premise establishments, with 31% saying they will return to bars and restaurants only when they see a decline in the number of COVID-19 cases.
Nielsen CGA asked the 71% of respondents who hadn’t returned to on-premise dining and drinking establishments why they’d held off thus far, and 48% said they needed more time to feel comfortable visiting on-premise establishments, 47% said they do not feel safe going out, 47% said they worried about their proximity to strangers, and 24% said they were self-isolating.
Among the measures consumers would like to see in venues once they do reopen, the top responses were additional hygiene programs within the establishment (51%), fewer tables or patrons within the venues to encourage social distancing (48%) and bar and restaurant staff wearing protective gear such as masks and gloves (45%).
Even with record unemployment, only 13% of consumers said they were worried about their finances and saving money. Just 12% of respondents said they have less disposable income, and 4% said they have lost their jobs and can’t afford to go out.
Meanwhile, a majority of the respondents (70%) said they have placed a food delivery order, but just 12% had placed an alcohol delivery order. The last note is a bit surprising given the triple-digit growth being reported by Drizly, the on-demand e-commerce marketplace for alcoholic beverages, which is available in three of those states (Texas, Florida and Tennessee) but not Georgia.
In Georgia, Atlanta-based Monday Night Brewing reopened its outdoor patio space with a limited capacity last weekend. Although there are no local limits on capacity for outdoor spaces, Monday Night limited capacity to 80 people, and maxed out at about 70 people during the busiest point of the day, Monday Night co-founder and CEO Jeff Heck told Brewbound. The company also limited its hours over the weekend and closed earlier than normal.
The first weekend back “went really well” with no issues, Heck said. He also praised the brewery’s team for not only executing the “safety protocol but also welcoming guests back.”
“We plan to continue like this for now, probably open up the other taproom outdoors sometime in the next couple weeks as we continue to monitor public health data and get people trained,” he said. “One thing that worked really well was having a greeter at the entrance explaining the new layout and counting guests to ensure we limited capacity.”
Last Thursday, Heck joined Chris Herron, founder of Athens, Georgia-based Creature Comforts; Bryce Schaffter, founder of Kansas City, Missouri-based Cinder Block Brewery; and Libby Crider, co-owner of St. Louis-based 2nd Shift Brewing to discuss reopening plans during a Brewbound Frontlines event (click here to watch that discussion).
As of Monday, 48 states have begun to reopen in some manner. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced today a plan for a phased reopening, starting with construction and manufacturing, as well as church services.
In Texas, one of the states surveyed by Nielsen CGA, the number of new COVID-19 cases spiked on Saturday with more than 1,800 confirmed cases, the largest single-day increase in confirmed cases in the state since the start of the pandemic. The Lone Star State’s stay at home order expired at the end of April, allowing many businesses to resume operations, albeit with limited capacities.
As on-premise drinking and dining establishments reopen, many are considering ways to cut down on touch points, including going cashless and offering disposable drinking glasses. In an effort to further help those retailers eliminate additional touch points, such as paper menus and tablets, BeerBoard has launched BeerPages, a digital, contactless menu that consumers can access through a QR code and URL.
The tech and data company, which tracks more than $1 billion in retail draft beer sales from 3,000-plus on-premise accounts in the U.S., is now offering BeerPages to its existing retail partners at no additional cost.