The Demand for Social Interactions in Consumer Cities: Evidence from Restaurant Industry During the COVID-19 Pandemic

53 Pages Posted: 12 Nov 2021

See all articles by Binzhe Wang

Binzhe Wang

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Mattias Williams

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Fábio Duarte

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Siqi Zheng

Samuel Talk Lee Professor of Urban and Real Estate Sustainability, Faculty Director of MIT Center for Real Estate

Date Written: November 10, 2021

Abstract

We study the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on restaurant visits in the post-lockdown era in the U.S., from the lens of social interactions. We construct a “social index” based on pre-pandemic mobile phone data to measure levels of social interactions that happened in different restaurants. We utilize a unique data structure of chain restaurants to disentangle restaurant attributes such as food and service types (which vary across chains) and the local market attributes such as local infection risk (which vary with the geographical location of each establishment). Our results suggest that chains with higher social indices experienced larger drops when local new cases increased in 2020, but when vaccination programs expanded in 2021, visits to these restaurants also rebounded faster. In addition, the demand for restaurants in urban centers with denser consumer amenities recovered faster than those in surrounding commuting areas. Our results provide evidence of a persisting demand for social interactions in consumer cities, and such demand has demonstrated its resilience when the economy started to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Suggested Citation

Wang, Binzhe and Williams, Mattias and Duarte, Fábio and Zheng, Siqi, The Demand for Social Interactions in Consumer Cities: Evidence from Restaurant Industry During the COVID-19 Pandemic (November 10, 2021). MIT Center for Real Estate Research Paper No. 21/19, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3960826 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3960826

Binzhe Wang (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
50 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States

Mattias Williams

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
50 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States

Fábio Duarte

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
50 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States

Siqi Zheng

Samuel Talk Lee Professor of Urban and Real Estate Sustainability, Faculty Director of MIT Center for Real Estate ( email )

Building 9-323
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://siqizheng.mit.edu/

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
123
Abstract Views
622
Rank
421,466
PlumX Metrics