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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Restaurant Assn. reports show consumers adapting to post-pandemic ‘realities’


Sixty-five percent of people participating in a Puerto Rico Restaurant Association study said they believe that the use of technology in restaurants facilitates the experience there.


By THE STAR STAFF


The Puerto Rico Restaurant Association (ASORE) presented earlier this week an update of the ASORE Trends Study, or EAT, and the new findings of the Projections 2023 study, during an event gathering the organization’s roster, food service industry professionals, and suppliers.


“Our industry is one of constant change and this type of information, such as is provided by the EAT and Projections reports, is a tool that allows us to take the pulse of the market in order to establish our business plans and identify areas of opportunity,” ASORE President Mateo Cidre said in a written statement. “For example, the EAT report makes it clear that customers are taking the necessary steps to continue enjoying their restaurant experiences, from spending less to integrating technology into their processes. The study allows us to see what those trends are and what things we must do in our businesses to adapt to them.”


The EAT report was prepared by The Research Office. The study, which has become the benchmark for the industry, was conducted in September 2022 among 1,000 adults throughout Puerto Rico who had had an experience in fast-food restaurants during the previous three months, or full-service restaurants in the previous six months.


“In essence, the results show that consumers have adapted well to the new realities of the industry after the pandemic, and that restaurants continue to provide a great emotional reward of being able to socialize with loved ones and friends,” said José Alfonso, the executive director of The Research Office.


Among EAT’s main findings on consumer behavior in restaurants are:


1. 17 percent feel their personal financial situation will be better in the coming year, down from 31 percent who felt this way in the 2019 EAT study.


2. 38 percent of those surveyed also feel concerned about the economy and say they are limiting their spending.


3. Meanwhile, 40 percent say they are taking a wait-and-see attitude for the next few months and limiting their spending until the economy improves.


4. 80 percent say they would opt for a restaurant that offers dishes prepared with local products, grown on the island.


5. Looking for value for money: 34 percent say they belong to a restaurant loyalty program of some kind.


6. 65 percent believe that the use of technology in restaurants facilitates the experience there.


7. 72 percent say they have used technology to look up restaurant locations, addresses, and hours of operation (in 2019 this number was 52 percent).


Other prominent uses of technology include paying for food using mobile payment platforms, such as ATH Móvil; seeing the menu of a restaurant “online”; and placing an order for delivery or pickup using a mobile app or restaurant website. Social media networks dominate, among all media, to find out where to go to eat.

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