Chains like Starbucks switch to "takeout only" to maintain foot traffic - and it's working
The spread of Coronavirus is forcing society into lockdown. Many bars and restaurants are closing in an effort to protect their employees and patrons. This is, of course, a great risk for both the workers who've just lost their income and the companies without customers. But some of these businesses have remained open for the time being, switching to a no-seating takeout only model.
The promise of quick comfort food might be appealing during a global pandemic, but our data suggests it might not be enough to get people in the door.
Based on our Facebook "Were Here" data — the cumulative count of the number of times a business is tagged as the location in a selfie, status update, or comment — Starbucks' ($NASDAQ:SBUX) foot traffic has continued to grow heading into the warmer months. But over the past few days, as Coronavirus continues to spread and impede on American lives, the company's gains have slowed.
Starbucks boasts a total Were Here count of nearly 39 million, but the growth rate continues to hover around 3% year-over-year.
Olive Garden's year-over-year Were Here growth has been steadily slowing since January. But, like Starbucks, it started to pick up when the weather started warming. Growth fell off again last week though, when "family style" became health risk. The Italian fast-casual spot is still open, but the company's parent, Darden Restaurants ($NYSE:DRI), is now offering paid sick leave to all employees during the outbreak.
McDonald's ($NYSE:MCD), on the other hand, is fighting against parts of Trump's Coronavirus bill that would give workers paid sick leave. The company's Were Here growth declined to just over 8% month over month, down from 8.5% in January. That said, takeout and drive-thru aren't exactly unfamiliar concepts to the fast-food giant, so McDonald's isn't as at-risk as some of its competitors.
This morning, Darden said that same-store sales across its restaurants plunged 20.6% for last week, as more Coronavirus cases were reported domestically. It's unclear how long these restaurants can continue operating with revised service as people adapt to cooking at home to keep from falling ill.
About the Data:
Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.