Lisa Jennings | Restaurant Hospitality | October 10, 2017
The already heated competition for butts in seats in the independent restaurant industry is about to get hotter. But the biggest threat to market share comes not from the restaurant down the street, but from outside the industry.
Restaurant operators may soon see themselves losing guests to the local grocery store offering cooked-to-order meals and table-service, along with a full bar.
At the same time, the young-but-full-of-potential meal-kit industry is also out to steal diners from restaurants, offering quality and unique ready-to-cook-dishes — often at a lower price — directly to consumers where they live.
And there’s potential cross over between the two. Grocery stores are also beginning to offer meal kits to appeal to the growing number of consumers who don’t know how to cook, or don’t want to.
This year e-commerce giant Amazon bought the specialty grocery chain Whole Foods Market, a move that has sparked a wave of speculation about how Americans will be enjoying the home delivery of all manner of fresh ingredients and pre-prepped meals in future.
Behind both of these trends is a common theme: Time-starved diners across the country are looking for convenience.
Consumers want to eat well, but the pull of the couch at home is strong. The one-stop shopping of the “grocerant,” and the home-delivered ready-to-cook meal kit give diners two more reasons to skip the neighborhood bistro.
In the spirit of knowing one’s enemy, here’s a look at the growing threat from grocery stores and meal kits.
Grocery stores get into the restaurant business
For years, restaurants have had to compete with grocery stores, with their in-store delis, rotisserie chickens and salad bars.
Last year, however, eating meals outside the home surpassed those eaten at home, and the grocery industry felt the jolt of a shift in consumer behavior.
In May, grocery spending grew just 2.6 percent year-over-year, compared with a 4.8 percent increase at restaurants, according to credit card company Visa’s Retail Spending Monitor.
Seeing that shift, grocery stores are looking for ways to increase foot traffic and win that spending back.