Study: Diners Second-Guessing Holiday Plans

BentoBox, a website, e-commerce, and marketing platform for over 7,000 restaurant brands worldwide, released the third installment of its Restaurant Delivery Consumer Trend Report, as part of a year-long study tracking how U.S. consumers’ delivery and takeout habits evolve through COVID-19 recovery. 

Powered by Suzy Insights, BentoBox’s Q3 survey features insights from 1,034 U.S. diners, ages 18+, who dined out at least once per week prior to the pandemic. The report shows that while takeout and delivery orders dipped during the summer months, the Delta variant and rising case counts could hint to a rebound in ordering volume over the holiday season.

Three Key Trends:

Takeout and delivery ordering frequency declines amidst seasonal changes and easing restaurant dining restrictions:  

76% of diners ordered takeout or delivery at least once per week in October, down from 85% in June as restaurants reopened for indoor dining over the summer months. Additionally, nearly one-in-four (23%) diners did not order takeout or delivery at all on a weekly basis, up from 15% in the June survey. 

Ordering frequency dwindled for even the most frequent orderers of takeout and delivery. In June, 50% of diners ordered from a restaurant over 2x/week. In October, that number fell to 35% – a 15-point decrease. 

Friday is the most popular night for delivery and takeout, with 39% of diners typically ordering food at the end of the work week. Other popular days include Saturday (24%), Wednesday (11%), and Thursday (9%). 

While 18-34-year-old diners are most likely to explore restaurant meal kits, over nine-in-ten (93%) diners prefer to order delivery and takeout for individual and multi-person meals for the household.

The summer surge of COVID cases has diners second-guessing their holiday plans:

64% of diners are very or somewhat likely to change their dining habits over the next few months given the Delta variant and surging cases nationally, a sign that takeout and delivery ordering could rebound in Q4. 

When asked about why they would opt for delivery and takeout this holiday season in lieu of visiting a restaurant, 49% of diners said that ordering is more convenient than cooking, while 39% of diners reported that the Delta variant made them apprehensive to visit restaurants. Notably, only 5% of diners plan to visit a restaurant during the holidays instead of ordering takeout and delivery online, a sign that restaurants should optimize their ordering infrastructure to account for a higher volume of takeout and delivery orders.

Diners over 35 years of age are the most likely to not visit a restaurant due to spiking COVID-19 cases and the Delta variant, while younger diners are not as concerned. 49% of Diners aged 65+ are nervous to visit a restaurant due to the Delta variant, followed by diners aged 35-64 (42%). Notably, only 33% of diners aged 25-34 and 24% of diners 18-24 shared in this concern.

Preference for third-party marketplaces falls as diners note ease, costs, and restaurant support as their top motivations for ordering delivery and takeout: 

As the restaurant industry continues its digital transformation, diners are looking less to third-party marketplaces for their convenience. 14% of diners in October preferred the ease and convenience of a third-party marketplace, a 50% decrease from the March survey (28%). 

When deciding whether to order directly through a restaurant versus via a third-party marketplace, ease of ordering (46%), promotions and discounts (44%) and benefit to the restaurant (34%) were top considerations among diners. 

Younger diners prioritize the cost of ordering: 44% of diners aged 18-24 are likely to order based on the option with the lowest delivery fee, while diners aged 25-34 are most likely to take promotions and discounts into account before ordering takeout or delivery. 

News and information presented in this release has not been corroborated by FSR, Food News Media, or Journalistic, Inc.