Consumer spending increased on delivery via third-party apps and on carryout via restaurant apps during pandemic

Line charts showing spending on carryout and delivery by app type for full-service and quick-service restaurants between December 2019 and June 2022

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic led to large shifts in how consumers spent money on and acquired food. USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) researchers recently examined the changes in how individuals acquired food away from home by analyzing spending trends on carryout and delivery. They examined these trends among full- and quick-service restaurants by mobile application types (including mobile website equivalents) from December 2019–February 2020 through April–June 2022. Following the onset of the pandemic (June-August 2020), delivery spending via third-party apps at full-service restaurants tripled while restaurant-specific apps spending for carryout at quick-service restaurants matched their growth. Third-party apps typically offer food from a variety of restaurants, while restaurant-specific apps are operated by the offering establishment. At quick-service restaurants, spending on carryout via restaurant-specific apps doubled by June–August 2020 and more than tripled for delivery orders placed using a third-party app. As of April–June 2022, the increased spending persisted at quick-service restaurants on delivery and carryout via third-party and restaurant-specific apps, respectively. However, the spending levels via all app types at full-service restaurants remained higher than pre-pandemic but declined somewhat from the post-onset jump. This chart appears in the ERS’ : COVID-19 Working Paper: Food-Away-From-Home Acquisition Trends Throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic, released May 2023.

Download larger size chart (2048 pixels by 2572, 96 dpi)