This paper investigates the effects of crowdedness and in-restaurant safety measures on consumers’ restaurant patronage choices (eat-in vs. order takeaway vs. not patronize) and their perceptions during the COVID-19 pandemic. In an online experiment with 593 US consumers and 591 Australian consumers, we assess the effects of three levels of crowdedness (low vs. medium vs. high crowdedness) and four types of in-restaurant safety measures (none vs. partition vs. increasing distances between tables vs. not using in-between tables) by showing participants an image of the restaurant setting. Results show that US consumers are more sensitive to crowdedness, whereas Australian consumers are more sensitive to different types of safety measures, which greatly influence their patronage choices. In general, safety measures featuring social distancing are preferred over partitions, and there is no preferential difference between the measure of increasing distances between tables and the measure of not using in-between tables.
- Social distancing
- Partition screen