Consumer Trends

Takeout becomes America's preferred dining mode

More than half of people say they’d rather get their food to go than eat it at a restaurant, according to a new survey from US Foods. And they’re doing it a lot more often.
Takeout transaction
57% of consumers say they prefer takeout to dining in. | Photo: Shutterstock

The majority of Americans would rather order takeout or delivery than sit down and eat at a restaurant. 

That’s according to a recent survey of 1,000 people by US Foods, which found that 57% of them preferred to get their food to go, while 43% favor on-premise dining. 

The overwhelming reason people like takeout is convenience. Three-fourths said “it’s enjoyable to eat at home” and, of course, more convenient. Half appreciate the fact that they can watch TV while they eat, and a third enjoy wearing comfortable clothes.

All of that has helped make takeout Americans’ primary restaurant occasion. The average person gets delivery 4.5 times per month and dines out 3 times per month, according to US Foods. The study theorized that people became enamored with takeout during the pandemic and are continuing those habits today. 

It did not, however, offer an explanation for how inflation-weary Americans can afford that much delivery, which tends to be significantly more expensive than dining in or even just picking up the food yourself. 

Of course, a good amount of people still prefer going out to eat, and their reasons for that are worth noting. Three-fourths said it’s because they don’t feel like cooking. But many highlighted a factor that has nothing to do with food: 63% said it’s the atmosphere of a restaurant that causes them to dine out rather than at home. And 48% said they like to go out to socialize. 

That suggests consumers are turning to restaurants for one of two things these days: convenience or an experience. 

Concepts that offer the latter have certainly done well recently. Experiential brands like Kura Sushi, Main Event and Dave & Buster’s were among the fastest-growing chains in the U.S. last year, for instance. 

At the same time, just about every restaurant is doing more to meet consumers’ demand for convenience, most noticeably by building a delivery and pickup business. But some are even developing to-go-focused spinoffs or drive-thru only locations focused solely on off-premise.

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