Administrative Publication No. (AP-113) 36 pp

May 2023

COVID-19 Working Paper: Food-Away-From-Home Acquisition Trends Throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing policy responses disrupted how consumers in the United States acquired food-away-from-home and little is known about how they adapted. This report summarizes national-level trends in dollars U.S. consumers spent from December 2019–February 2020 through April–June 2022 at quick- and full-service restaurants by service mode (on-premise, drive-thru, delivery, and carry-out) and acquisition and ordering method. Results shows that while on-premises (eating inside a restaurant) spending fell at quick- and full-service restaurants, spending at full-service restaurants remained much lower than pre-pandemic spending levels. Researchers found that consumers quickly adapted to other service modes, like delivery or drive-thru, and this offset many of the losses observed in spending at full-service restaurants. Consumers increased spending via cell phone apps for carry-out and delivery orders at both types of restaurants relative to pre-pandemic spending. In short, while consumers’ restaurant spending has largely returned to pre-pandemic levels, many of the ways that consumers interacted with both quick- and full-service restaurants immediately following the onset of the pandemic remained.

How to Cite:

Marchesi, K., & McLaughlin, P. (2023). COVID-19 working paper: Food-away-from-home acquisition trends throughout the COVID-19 pandemic (Report No. AP-113). U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.

Keywords: COVID-19, Coronavirus, demand shock, food-away-from-home, food acquisition, spending, delivery, apps, NPD, restaurants, third-party delivery, food delivery app

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