How COVID affected the demand for Pizza

According to consumers, take out and delivery is most commonly associated with pizza. To be precise, when consumers were asked, 63% reported they wanted pizza. The pandemic has hearkened in a new age for restaurants in many respects.

One aspect all restaurants have had to learn early on to survive financially in 2020 is that take out, curbside pickup, and delivery are vitally essential. Restaurants that didn’t specialize in these suffered until they figured out how to make it possible. Good fortune smiled on the pizza industry since most pizza places have mastered the carry out and delivery for decades. Not only was pizza ready to go in the new era covid created, but pizza has often been an easy meal to provide for families.


It’s cost-effective, helping families stretch the budget when economic times have been downright nasty. Pizza also falls into the comfort food category. Crispy crust, gooey cheese, just the right toppings… mmm. It hits the spot. Pizza can be eaten hot or cold. No utensils required. Without knowing it, pizza was the answer to consumers' food fuel. To prove pizza has been a forefront winner during the pandemic, let’s take a look at the statistics. 

Papa John’s, which had been underperforming for a couple of years, saw a 28% increase in the second quarter (in the midst of the onset of the pandemic) compared to last year and continues to increase month to month. In an effort to keep up with the demand, Papa John’s hired 20,000 new employees between March and June with plans to hire 20,000 more. Desperate to get these new hirees started, the company even simplified the hiring process so that most new hires can start the same day they are hired. 

Jobs created

Plagued by downward trends in sales and bankruptcy, Pizza Hut has been positively buoyed in the face of the coronavirus. The best week in sales in 8 years occurred in early May, and the brand continues to make gains. Pizza Hut announced it will hire 30,000 permanent positions, including cooks, delivery drivers, restaurant managers, shift leaders, and virtual call center agents. To get pizza to the masses faster, the training for delivery drivers is down to 5 hours before they hit the road, three times faster than previous training. 

Based on world-wide sales, Domino's is the leader in the pizza industry. In just the past three years, Domino’s stock has increased 99%. Their large slice of success over other pizza giants is credited to their innovations in technology and mastering the delivery. COVID-19 might as well have been a small bump in the road considering Domino’s was prepared for the chaos that the coronavirus created. Already set in the app and online was the innovative technology for ordering pizza on an app and tracking your pizza status from inception to delivery. Additionally, Domino’s has been the only pizza chain to rely solely on their own in-house delivery teams. Other pizza places supplemented the demands for deliveries by using a mixture of in-house delivery fleets and third party delivery services, such as UberEats. Domino’s has proved over and over that they are doing things right. U.S. individual store sales gained by 16% in Q2 of this year. In the first half of 2020, Domino’s net income soared to $240 million, generating a 30% increase from the same time last year. 

The consumers have spoken, and the pizza industry is responding in a flurry to keep up with the demand for pizza. There is yet to be a slow in the pizza industry’s growth, and though the trends may level off as consumers and restaurants get used to new take out options, pizza will continue to reign supreme. The fact is, pizza as we know it, in a box and ready to go for delivery or take out, provides slices of normalcy that many cling to in this year where the normal is still not defined. Pizza is a comfort food for more than one reason. There is comfort in knowing what to expect.

Starving for a prosperous pizza place in your vacant space? Order up some time with a Retailsphere professional to strategize an effective system for searching for ideal tenants.

December 3, 2020
Barton Strawn

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