For many years the drive-thru has been associated with fast-food restaurants and chain coffee shops like Starbucks. But the pandemic is changing all that. With social distancing being a significant factor in the new normal, drive-thrus are experiencing a major comeback – and not just in the drive-through arena, says Scott Chappelle, President of Strathmore Development.
“We’re seeing a major demand for socially-distanced purchase options, not just in convenience food and cafes, but even in the retail space,” says Scott Chappelle. And it’s true that across the country, drive-thrus have seen a 29% boost in overall sales, no matter what industry they belong to.
Drive-Thrus Are Heavily Regulated in Some Cities Says Scott Chappelle
Over the past decade or so, some cities have been attempting to lower vehicle emissions and prevent traffic backups by eliminating and heavily regulating the installation of new drive-thrus. The problem with that, says Scott Chappelle, is that there is very little environmental research to back up the claims that drive-thrus are contributing to these problems at all.
Roland Sturm, a senior economist at nonprofit research firm Rand Corp., says the idea of banning drive-through lanes is “ridiculous.” According to the specialist, the bans were meant to encourage better health – fewer idling cars means fewer gas fumes, and discouraging drive-thrus may discourage fast food, which can lead to obesity when over-consumed. But no studies have been completed on whether drive-thrus add to carbon emission numbers compared to other models of dining and shopping.
The Benefits of Drive-Thrus for Retail Space Are Manifold, Says Scott Chappelle
There has been a significant pivot in the retail space during the pandemic as businesses struggle to adapt and continue to serve their customers, says Scott Chappelle, East Lansing developer. And one of the significant ways they have met the demand for safely distanced consumption is online or call-in ordering and curbside pickup.
If you’re selling large items like furniture or televisions, a drive-thru is not the best idea. But offering an online inventory for customers to choose from and then allowing them to drive-thru and pick up their goods could be an excellent model if you’re worried about sinking sales – especially as the holiday shopping season approaches. Picking up orders of clothing, candles, tools, and supplies through a drive-thru makes people feel safer. And you can get creative with your advertising and specials to draw in new customers!
Just be aware that in some cities, new drive-thrus cannot be installed without proper permissions. But you can always buy a property with an existing one or make modifications to current areas. Talk to a developer about how a drive-thru could help your retail business, advises Scott Chappelle, East Lansing businessman.