CORONAVIRUS

How pizza delivery rates could gauge virus concerns

Domino's, Papa John's still seeing growing sales

Slowing pizza delivery sales likely would be a signal consumers are becoming comfortable with to other dining options. (
Slowing pizza delivery sales likely would be a signal consumers are becoming comfortable with to other dining options. (Bloomberg)

For those looking for a way to gauge virus concerns in the United States, pizza takeout and delivery may offer a glimpse into consumers’ psyche.

Domino’s and Papa John’s still are logging accelerated sales growth, according to mid-quarter business updates, as many Americans wary of the novel coronavirus remain hesitant to venture into public places.

Papa John’s said Wednesday its North American restaurants’ preliminary comparable sales growth was almost 34 percent from April 27 through May 24 and that it will continue to provide monthly sales updates.

Domino’s reported Tuesday that U.S. comparable store sales were up 21 percent from April 20 through May 17, though the company said it is unsure how long the trend will last.

Slowing sales likely would be an early signal consumers are warming up to other dining options as states lift measures to contain the virus, Bloomberg Intelligence restaurant analyst Michael Halen said.

“Some of these gains in May should subside in June because dining rooms are reopening and people are starting to venture out a little more,” Halen said.

More-robust pizza sales may continue for a while, he added, depending on conditions of the pandemic.

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A second surge of the virus could extend pizza’s success, which is aided by the entrenched delivery model and the ease of contact-free transactions.

At some stage, however, they’ll inevitably decline from the quarantine numbers.

“We could see another outbreak in the fall and winter, and that would obviously be a boon for sales again,” Halen said.

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