City dwellers increasingly ordering in at night

Bolt Food couriers.
Bolt Food couriers. Source: Anna Aurelia Minev/ERR

Both gas stations and food couriers say that people increasingly order in at night, with fast food

Head of Wolt Baltic Liis Ristal told ERR that around 1,000 restaurants use Wolt in Tallinn and Tartu of which roughly one third are open late at night.

She said that consumer behavior clearly suggests there is demand for food late at night, which is why the company now delivers until 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Wolt deliveries end at 1 a.m. on other days.

"While the so-called evening rush hour doesn't come close to matching daytime volumes, the number of orders is still considerable – people in Tallinn and Tartu also want to eat late at night," Ristal offered.

She added that recent experience suggests this is a growing trend, while longer-term market analysis will take time as Wolt only introduced late delivery recently.

"We have also suggested restaurants stay open for longer, and one of our partners recently told us that orders tend to spike after 11 p.m."

Jaagup Jalakas, head of Bolt Food Estonia, remarked that night-time orders are considerably fewer because many restaurants close their doors but added that because Bolt keeps singing up new places, the number of those that stay open late is also growing. While fast food restaurants handle most nighttime orders, other restaurants also tend to stay open longer during weekends.

Liis Ristal said that Wolt customers mostly order pizza, burgers or kebab at night.

"People also order takeaway from pubs, Asian restaurants and sushi places. Wolt's groceries delivery service Wolt Market is also popular late at night," she added.

Coronavirus period changed consumer habits

Representatives of gas station chains that offer meals said that the coronavirus crisis changed people's consumption habits, with nightlife restrictions slashing customer numbers and consumption across the board.

Diana Veigel, marketing director for Circle K Estonia, said that this is not reflected in sales figures compared to before the coronavirus. Circle K works with Bolt Food and orders suggest people increasingly eat late at night.

"Orders often come in after midnight to suggest the demand is there," she added.

Piret Miller, executive manager of Olerex, said that some competitors have closed doors, and while the crisis has changed consumer habits, gas stations have diversified their selections.

"Closing of catering establishments dragged our volumes down at first, while recovery quickly followed and is going strong," Miller said.

Both Circle K and Olerex make it possible for customers to order takeaway in advance and pick it up later. Veigel said that orders coming through the Circle K app are growing. More popular nighttime items are wrappers, burgers, coffee and other hot and cold beverages.

The kitchen of the Hell Hunt pub in Tallinn's Old Town is open until midnight. One of the owners Harri Beekmann said that even though some customers want to eat late at night, sales mostly consist of alcohol at that time.

Old Town restaurants have been hit harder by shortage of tourists. Beekmann said that while numbers have bounced back somewhat, turnover is still roughly 20 percent short of the 2019 level.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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