Introduction:

Beyond any criticism, unprecedented instability confronted the world with the new normal. Where covid and food industry had clashed, the industry had to shut down. This pandemic altered general acceptance in developing and developed countries worldwide at an unprecedented rate. Those restaurants that acted casually in the face of the worldwide epidemic undoubtedly failed to exist within the hospitality industry following a rise in coronavirus cases. Authorities in Pakistan’s most significant cities imposed new restrictions, including the prohibition of indoor dining. This research focuses on the characteristics of the covid and food industry in Pakistan, further on consumer perceptions of their health awareness and sanitary quality (Cronin et al., 1992). Indoor eateries were closed too.

The sitting pattern in an open-air restaurant drew the immediate attention of social scientists and academicians to the potential hazards that this signal presented (Ali et al., 2021). Several troubling questions were raised by the government’s decision to shut all dine-in establishments and impose the limitation. One of the foremost complex challenges within the current crisis was to survive.

They followed the COVID-19 protocols while maintaining top-notch food service and quality (Brady et al., 2001) issues for open-air restaurants. Although there is a growing literature on the importance of consumer behavior (Asioli et al., 2017) and restaurant compliance worldwide, research has been conducted within the open-air restaurant market using COVID 19 measures. The Pakistani government declared a restaurant dining ban in November 2020, allowing only outdoor eateries to serve clients. It was assumed that in a plague, customers’ willingness to return to a restaurant was influenced to a greater extent by the business’s sanitary reputation. Without a doubt, revenues were declining, and open space restaurants were seen as having limited liquidity; On the other hand, preserving hygiene, trust, and consumer pleasure was critical for the eating business to stay competitive within the marketplace. This study is different and unique in this it aims to supply value to outdoor eateries to counteract the negative consequences of this unstoppable pandemic. It would, however, look at various options for addressing the matter, like maintaining hygiene, trust, and customer happiness while keeping sales profit. Because Pakistan had never encountered such an unexpected disaster before serving clients, stringent compliance pushed the restaurant industry to a new level; only the highest performers could survive.

This study’s primary goal is to examine COVID 19 in the Pakistani restaurant business during the epidemic. To realize the study’s purpose, four specific research objectives are kept in mind:

1. To check the efficacy of current pandemic measures in restaurants that serve during a large open area

2. To look at customer satisfaction (Churchill et al., 1982) and hygiene trust influence consumer re-experience intent.

3. This research will augment the COVID-19 business and management literature and act on the industry. Restricted dining establishment Restaurant owners, specifically, should use business tactics.

4. The enhanced use of technology using the Technology Acceptance Model

Covid-19 and its impact on the food industry of Pakistan:

COVID-19 was detected at the tip of December, an episode of pneumonia with an unknown cause in China 2019. The virus was later termed new Covid sickness once the cases became visible. COVID-19 immediately spread (WHO, 2020). The illness’s seriousness was quickly recognized. WHO declared it a “global crisis of general well-being (Anguish “30.01.220) (WHO, 2020). Even after a year, the number of approved and passed instances rapidly increased. The first patient was from Karachi, in Sindh province, in step with Pakistani data, whereas the second patient was from the federal territory of the country. Pakistan verified three more cases in late February. The number of confirmed cases began rapidly increasing because of numerous people’s actions on March 15, 2020. Iran’s crossing of the Taftan Border was depicted. An announcement and necessity for Pakistan was placed on lockdown daily, causing havoc as people returned home.

The café and hotel industry transformed extensively. The eatery business was primarily powerless in the face of a long-running crisis (Ali, 2020). They showed that survival chances had decreased dramatically from 72% (1-month emergency) to 15% (half-year emergency). The restaurant industry was weakened, most likely caused by social shifts in light of this.

In emergencies, one of the distinctive social shifts occurring due to the COVID-19 epidemic was to distance oneself from others (social distancing). It was adopted as a self-preventive strategy and was crucial in many situations. The pandemic was being leveled.

To avoid contact with the disease, keeping a distance of at least 6 feet in eateries was suggested. These basic safety precautions limited eateries’ operational capabilities, reducing the number of restaurants (Andaleeb and Conway, 2006). Finance performance had declined. This was another factor contributing to the hotel industry’s financial demise. The government issued an order of lockdown and company closure throughout this outbreak. Due to the current government, business-issued policies, and strict constraints, businesses had to close down quickly, resulting in the loss of jobs.

Recorded loss in business was worth billions of dollars. A bailout package was proposed to overcome such a business demise.

Regardless of the circumstances, restaurants looked for new opportunities. Outer blows posed a severe risk, and COVID-19 introduced a new normal. These modifications included modifying or adjusting their action plans to reduce the café’s exposure to customers. It gave birth to the following issues:

• Shortage of jobs: The lockdown led to the restaurants’ shutting down, causing unemployment.

• Trust issues and hygiene: The major trust issue was developed when it was declared that COVID could also be transmitted with physical contact. This increased the trust issues of consumers.

• Quality of food: Consumers began to doubt food quality (Baker et al., 2020).

• Increased use of technology: To avoid contacting people directly, it was observed that people shifted to ordering food using smartphones, laptops, and computers. Applications like Foodpanda extended their business, and the consumers adopted the behavior of online orders. Apart from food panda, the restaurants with websites were observed to have better business than those without web addresses (Soares et al., 2022). People were home as jobs and offices were closed, so they spent most of their time on social media platforms, leading to the food industry’s shift towards the digital market.

Food industries took steps:

Keeping in view the standard operational policies (S.O.P.s), the eatery industry decided to take a few steps to keep the business going:

• Take-away option:

• Dine-in in the open air:

• Contracting with digital platforms:

• Implementing sanitization:

Technology Acceptance Model:

Fred Davis created the Technology Acceptance Model in 1989 (Davis et al., 1989). When customers are confronted with a product that employs a new type of technology, the model proposes that two key elements affect whether or not they will use it, as well as when they are using it (Ishfaq and Mengxing, 2021). These criteria are linked to customers’ perceptions of the new technology’s simplicity of use (known as ease of use or E.U.E.U.) and utility (or Perceived Usefulness). Furthermore, the model has been critical for technology adoption, primarily identifying an individual’s desire to adopt new technology (Ishfaq and Mengxing, 2021). This also facilitates the application of T.A.M. to consumer behavior regarding smartphone applications.

The situation of covid across the world, specifically in Pakistan, has helped the researchers to apply this method and carry out research to study the acceptance of technology during a disease outbreak. Researchers have revealed that data usage has increased up to 25% during a pandemic. The essay below explains the increasing trend of digital marketplaces, usage patterns, consumer behaviors, and social variables that influence the using T.A.M.

Consumer behavior, attitude, and Perceived Usefulness:

Consumer behavior can include many variables that affect consumers’ intentions and insist them adopt new behaviors per the demands. It depends on the consumer’s inclination to perform that adopted behavior. With the imposition of lockdown in various parts of Pakistan, the consumers have shifted their trend towards digital marketplaces. This change in consumers’ behavior can be determined by various factors, including the attitude of a consumer and the effect of perceived usefulness (P.U.P.U.) or perceived ease of use (PEoU), and other social (external) determinants. T.A.M. model is directly linked with external factors of surroundings. These factors assist in determining the use and implication of technology regarding consumers’ behavioral attitudes and intentions.

The attitude of every consumer plays a crucial role in sorting out whether a behavior is accepted. It determines the consumers’ intention (Cho et al., 2020) to use or adapt a particular behavior. The impact of covid on the food industry led the consumer’s adopt the attitude of digital platforms. Consumers started ordering food via online platforms. This attitude resulted in the adoption of a particular behavior (Digital food industry) by the consumers. This is how attitude and behavioral intentions are interlinked (Boulding et al., 1993).

Therefore, perceived usefulness or P.U.P.U. can be stated as the extent of a consumer’s belief that using technology to consume the product and services of the food industry is beneficial and convenient in pandemic situations.

When looking at the Technology Acceptance Model, the theoretical framework shows that one of the primary aspects affecting attitudes toward new technology is the perceived usefulness of the technology. According to a Mintel market research of mobile applications related to food industries, around 75 percent of customers in Pakistan said they require food applications because they need them when they cannot bring food for various reasons (Afridi et al., 2021). It implies that these services are opportunistic and commercial, meaning they are only required when it is high time. Relating it to COVID-19, the consumers were locked up in one location, which was a high time of technological advancements for food applications (Ishfaq and Mengxing, 2021). Therefore, it is evident that it supports Technology Acceptance Model (T.A.M.). However, some external factors influence the acceptance of technology.

Furthermore, when more data was gathered, it was discovered that the food applications with communal elements received the most downloads, showing that social features significantly impacted the acceptance and usage of the whole technology (Ali et al., 2020). According to this assertion, consumers in Pakistan switched to mobile applications like food panda, which witnessed a considerable rise in users overcoming the social restrictions imposed on the public in reaction to the COVID-19 virus in Pakistan. This data supports the idea that social influence can positively impact technological acceptance and use.

External factors affecting consumer behavior and Perceived Ease of Use (PEoU):

To study the ease of use determinant, the theoretical framework of the T.A.M. model is used by linking it with external factors. Using mobile food applications during COVID made it relatively easier for these consumers. Instead of going out and putting lives in danger, consumers could get the food at their doorstep. The consumers perceived this task to be easier to perform. This show a positive tendency of consumers to adapt to digital services. A large number of studies and researches have proved that the effects of perceived ease of use on the attitude of consumers highly depend on external factors. The external factors in the T.A.M. model affect the consumer’s intentions regarding adaptation to mobile food applications.

To explain this further concerning the covid-19 impact on the food industry, consider external variables, such as age groups, social influences, and facilitating conditions.

1. Age Groups:

Age groups were seen to be a highly influencing external factor. The people ranging from teens to late thirties were observed adapting more to mobile applications in the food industry. They considered it easy to use. They were also less vulnerable to the deadly virus. Therefore, they adopted it wholeheartedly.

On the other hand, people in their late forties and above did not find it easy to use. They also feared contracting the virus because of the high health risks. Therefore, they did not adapt to this behavior largely.

2. Social Influences:

Social influences can be defined as the pressure of society to adopt something which is being consumed in great numbers. During a pandemic, it was a trend to order food online using social media platforms. The online food marketplaces boosted their ad campaigns and attracted many consumers.

3. Facilitating conditions:

Using technology and smartphones to order food via online delivery systems was observed extensively during shutter down pandemic. The condition of complete lockdown facilitated the adoption of consumer behavior. Therefore, a particular set of conditions affects the perceived ease of use.

Considering the variables mentioned above, it was observed that perceived ease of use was dependent on external factors. However, in most studies, consumers showed a high inclination toward the digital food industry and positively influenced perceived ease of use.

Limitations using this framework:

When relating this to the selected theoretical framework (T.A.M.) it may be claimed that the technology acceptance model misses identifying the social determinants that influenced the use of new technologies during the epidemic. This perspective of the model’s limitations has been identified in previous studies, and Cho, Ghi, and Chiu (Saleem et al., 2022) suggest that because T.A.M. focuses solely on cognitive beliefs and intentions, the model can be ridiculed for failing to account for social influence and other variables that help predict technology usage.

Considering the rise in the number of consumers using mobile food applications, the in-app behavior can be used to further investigate factors in consumer behavior. A large number of consumers are spending their money using these applications. This change in the consumer country’s food industry corresponds to the pandemic, particularly during the time of lockdown. This could be regarded as another limitation of the Technology Acceptance Model (T.A.M.) (Ali et al., 2020). The model is too simple to explain various parameters in user behavior, such as spending money. The model is only limited to defining the rate of download and usage.

The Future of consumer behavior using technology:

Following the offshoots of the pandemic, the Future of consumer behavior in the food industry can be predicted in Pakistan. The technology has progressed during the lockdown, and various options have been presented. Nearly every item in the food industry is available online. Consumers prefer staying at home and getting their food delivered to their doorstep. The pandemic has not ended entirely with the discovery of mutants every second day. Therefore, the Future of the food industry’s smartphone business is bright.

Consumers have a lot of variety and options, which c that can help them choose whatever they want. This property is highly significant and attracts high consumer attraction (Saleem et al., 2022). Consumer behavior will incline more towards technology after a pandemic due to many options. During the lockdown, people have observed mobile applications’ ease of placing orders in the food industry. This user-friendly capacity has led to an enhanced number of consumers, leading the business to boom (Bartik et al., 2020). The consumers are provided service at different rates beginning from lowest to highest. Consumers can choose the service that suits their pocket, which attracts the consumer’s attention and will increase consumer attraction in the Future. The feasibility of payment options, such as via visa cards or cash, also makes it the center of attention and strongly affects its future growth. With various payment options, it will continue attracting future consumers. The restaurants are always shown near your residing location. The property of geo-location will take the food industry to the next level and predict that consumers will continue using technology for food in the Future. The Future is expecting food delivery via drones, which means thinking of something in the food market, and getting it within instants.

However, since technology is evolving daily, more new inventions and advancements can reduce the use of mobile applications and lead to the use of other advanced technology. In addition, the food ordered from restaurants is not as healthy. Therefore, fitness freaks consumers may avoid following shifts to digital trends.

Recommendations:

Various recommendations can be made to businesses and policymakers to help them adapt to the observed changing customer behaviors in the mobile application market covered in this essay. Governments in Pakistan and worldwide should cooperate in developing campaigns to encourage people to use mobile applications even after the COVID-19 outbreak is officially finished. It may be claimed that by enabling customers to use food apps regularly, attitudes toward this technology will improve in terms of consumers considering them as beneficial and favorably affecting their perceived ease of use. According to the Technology Acceptance Model, this will lead to increased consumer adoption of the technology. Furthermore, by marketing food industry applications in everyday situations, more customers are expected to be familiar with them in the event of another health crisis that puts the nation on lockdown. Furthermore, consumers will be able to get a variety of foods that are not available in nearby eateries, the absence of which leads to reducing a possible bottleneck of customers.

Furthermore, it is advised that food and business experts, consumers, and regulators should be engaged in developing and testing successful food apps. This is because it can help increase the app’s overall efficiency, as well as its perceived utility and simplicity of use among users. As more customers flock to digital services for food and related services applications, it is urged that mobile health app providers, whether governments or corporations, be transparent and honest about data usage to reduce limitations for further progress. Furthermore, personal information will probably be necessary to adequately core focus applications and services, making it critical for customers to feel secure when using this technology. It is intended that by doing so, consumers’ perceived dangers of using applications will be lowered, resulting in more consumers adopting and using this technology to boost the country’s food industry.

Conclusion:

 It can be said that the pandemic has severely affected consumer behavior in the food industry of Pakistan. Using the Technology Acceptance Model, it can be inferred that technology has positively impacted the food industry. However, some social factors and variables limit the effect of consumer behavior on the food industry using T.A.M. In the Future, the food industry with digital intervention can be seen performing skyrocketing business.