Let’s look at the winners. There are always winners. No matter what.
Blue Apron’s Stock Is On Fire
Right now, Blue Apron is a winner.
Shares of Blue Apron jumped over 100 percent Monday afternoon after seven counties in the Bay Area announced shelter-in-place orders. Its stock jumped another 70 percent on Tuesday amid several extremely volatile trading hours as these orders took effect.
The meal-kit subscription market is dominated by Blue Apron, as well as Germany’s HelloFresh, according to Euromonitor. But before the massive rebound, Blue Apron shares had plummeted 98 percent since its initial public offering in June 2017.
Just when you think you’re out…a global pandemic pulls you back in.
Also Rockin’ In The Unfree World
Meal delivery companies are busy helping restaurants stay in business. Since takeout and delivery are the only options, and people don’t want to leave home, the need for this service just moved from a luxury convenience to lifeline.
Uber Eats is currently the second-largest player in the food delivery sector, owning 22 percent of the market, according to market research firm Edison Trends, preceded by DoorDash (35 percent) and followed by Grubhub (22 percent) and Postmates (10 percent).
Grocery Delivery Services Are Being Stress Tested
Did you know that e-commerce only represents just 3.2% of total U.S. food and beverage retail sales, making the online grocery business overall still a small industry?
The COVID-19 outbreak, combined with recent moves by many retailers to waive fees and expand delivery service, could be a tipping point that pushes consumers to try e-commerce for the first time and ultimately accelerate growth in the industry.
But the fledgling industry is struggling to meet demand. Grocery delivery services like those offered by Instacart and Shipt have been overloaded in recent days with orders.
“This past weekend, we saw the highest customer demand in Instacart’s history in terms of groceries sold on our platform,” Instacart said.
Right now, delivery windows are several days out in, so plan now for what you may need then.
What About Food Trucks, Are They Struggling?
What about food trucks? Are they open for business? Yes, they are open for business in Texas and other states where there is no “shelter in place” order.
Food trucks are open but patrons can’t bunch together in long lines, and people can’t sit together at the picnic tables. As with brick-and-mortar restaurants, it’s best to place by your order by phone or online, then pick it up or have it delivered.
Texas Monthly makes some solid points about the holy taco:
Taco trucks, which are a staple in Austin, and some pop-ups, which are an exciting element of the Texas taco life, aren’t as affected by restrictions as other businesses because of their walk-up model. This helps keep some small businesses running and keeps people fed with the ultimate quick, healthy, and portable food. This is how tacos began: a simple street food meant to sustain workers and the urban masses. This is just one of the many ways tacos are a force for good.
To add some anecdotal evidence to the mix, I went to pick up tacos at Tacqueria Morales on William Cannon in South Austin last week. Darby and I were the only patrons and the picnic tables were turned over to prevent sitting.
Painful Days and Sleepless Nights for Restauranteurs
Just because there are always winners does not mean there needs to be a sea of losers. People want to support their favorite places, but how much support can be provided by takeout and delivery? The pain of layoffs, closing doors, and unpaid bills is the new normal. The pain is everywhere, and the pain is real.
My local coffee shop, Stouthaus in South Austin, has been sending the most amazing and heartfelt emails to update the community. Today, a new email arrived saying that the shop is closing, despite efforts to remain open.
@patikacoffee. @mediciroasting. @fleetcoffeeco. @spokesmancoffeee. @machineheadcoffee. @houndstoothcoffee. @praxiscoffee. @epochcoffee. Sadly, we now add @stouthauscoffee to the growing list of ATX shops that have made the very difficult decision to close our doors and/or lay off our staff. Look at that list of names again. Let that sink in. Realize that this list doesn’t even scratch the surface of the impact COVID-19 prevention efforts have had and will have, on families and businesses in central Texas.
Faced with the option of temporarily shuttering or maintaining a skeleton crew with limited hours, on Saturday, March 21 ’20, we asked six of our favorite staff-family members to step down. We’ve lost sleep all week knowing we’d likely be faced with these hard choices. But in the midst of these difficult times, we maintain perspective. Each staff member knows we personally and deeply love them. And we’re not done yet.
Stouthaus has the fighting spirit, as so many entrepreneurs do. But we all need more than a good attitude, at the moment. Small businesses and the people who work in them must have direct economic relief from any loyal customers who can afford to help, and from local, state, and federal governments.
There’s no time to waste. We, the People, must find a way to fight the spread of viral infection while simultaneously keeping our businesses afloat. It’s a taller order than many of us ever expected to fill, but now that the challenges are here and hitting us all in the wallet, I expect to see innovative makers and people who employ people rise to this emergency occasion.