With the lifting of health orders and mask requirements as we head into the summer months, more people may be headed out to eat at local establishments. The European Cleaning Journal reported on a study by Simon-Kucher & Partners to discern attitudes toward eating in clean restaurants versus those that have lower standards of cleanliness.

US diners will be prepared to spend twice as much in restaurants that offer high standards of cleanliness and hygiene in the future, according to the study.

And customers will use a different set of criteria in general when choosing a dining venue post-COVID-19. This is the claim of global strategy and marketing consulting firm Simon-Kucher & Partners which polled 600 US consumers in its “new normal for restaurants” study.

The study revealed that factors such as cleanliness and sanitization standards have moved up higher on the list of criteria for customers when choosing a place to eat. In fact, cleanliness and hygiene are now outranked only by food quality and taste in the diner’s list of priorities.

Meal cost has dropped to tenth place in the list, falling behind considerations such as speed of service, the convenience of location, employee attitude, and a previous positive dining experience.

“Making consumers feel safe and the need to continue to develop digital offerings have accelerated throughout COVID-19 and are not going away,” says Dave Clement, partner at Simon-Kucher.

“Restaurant cleanliness has always been important to consumers but sanitization standards have now become top of mind due to the pandemic.”

He adds that today’s new attitudes towards hygiene go beyond the scope of parameters such as increased cleaning frequency and the provision of hand sanitizer dispensers for guests and employees.

“Also relevant are factors such as contactless pick-up and delivery plus the overt communication of safety measures,” he said.