Consumer Trends

Parents are driving an increase in restaurant spending

With kids learning remotely, parents have increasingly turned to restaurants, and particularly delivery, to help ease the burden, Technomic found.
Parental spending
Photograph: Shutterstock

When it comes to driving delivery business, restaurants would be smart to check in with mom and dad.

In recent months, parents with school-aged children have been a key driver of foodservice spending—particularly via delivery—according to new research from Technomic, a sister company of Restaurant Business.

A survey of consumers found that overall weekly average away-from-home food spending increased by about $12 between August and November. During that same period, parents’ spending increased by about $23, while nonparents’ increased by only about $5—indicating that parents were largely responsible for the broader jump.

“They’re the drivers behind this entire increase,” said Damon Horn, research analyst with Technomic. “And a lot of that is third-party delivery, which I argue and I do think is tied to school starting.”

Average weekly spending on food away from home

Source: Technomic

With many children learning remotely due to the pandemic, parents have found themselves in a time crunch over the past several months. It appears that they’ve been increasingly looking to restaurants to help ease that burden.

“They’re having to feed the family three meals a day, plus snacks, seven days a week,” said Melissa Wilson, principal with Technomic. “Those that have to ideate and plan and prepare and do this dishes definitely are looking for other resources.”

The research analyzed spending from all channels, but the general increase in delivery and the higher check averages that tend to accompany delivery orders suggest delivery is comprising a substantial chunk of parents’ spending, Horn said.

And parents already account for an outsized portion of the third-party delivery pie. They represent 53% of monthly third-party delivery customers, even though they make up only 35% of the population, according to Technomic research.

Restaurants have made moves during the pandemic to court families. Family meal packages have popped up on many menus, and have proven popular with consumers: 30% had ordered a family meal bundle during the pandemic, and 68% said they plan to continue doing so even after dine-in service has returned to full capacity, according to Technomic’s Navigating the Off-Premise World study published in October.

“Consumers have told us this year that they definitely want to continue to see those family meals remain on the menu,” Wilson said. 

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