Despite increasing food and energy prices and tighter budgets, U.S. consumers continue to actively support local restaurants with 58% stating that they are eating restaurant food more often this year compared to 2021. Recognizing financial hardships restaurants have endured, the majority of consumers stated that they are ok with restaurants raising menu prices—though value remains top of mind as consumers keep a watchful eye on economic trends.
Strong consumer support is welcome news for restaurateurs, who are struggling with inflation and a labor shortage that has caused job vacancies of 6 months or longer for 67% of restaurants. The majority (93%) have raised or plan to raise menu prices and 52% are employing technology online and on-premise to help bridge labor gaps.
Popmenu’s latest study of restaurant dining and operations is based on nationwide surveys of 1,000 U.S. consumers and 415 U.S. restaurant owners/operators that were completed in September 2022.
How much are consumers spending on restaurants?
Restaurant meals remain an important part of consumer budgets.
- 30% of all consumers spend an average of $180 per week on restaurant food.
- Taking a closer look at purchasing patterns, Popmenu ranked restaurant spending among respondents from greatest to least. The top 50% spend an average of $125 per week on restaurant food.
Why are consumers spending more on restaurants this year?
Convenience, grocery prices and loyalty to preferred eateries are major drivers of dining out. When Popmenu asked consumers who increased their restaurant spend this year why they were doing so, they responded as follows:
- 61% - I like the convenience.
- 43% - I want to support local restaurants.
- 36% - Grocery prices are so high, it’s more cost-effective to order from restaurants.
- 28% - I don’t have time to cook.
Is fast food consumption trending up?
While consumers are ordering from all types of restaurants, cost is influencing where some choose to frequent.
- 50% of consumers reported that they eat fast food two or more times per week, on average.
- 27% of consumers are eating fast food more often this year because of rising food costs.
Is takeout or delivery slowing down?
No! Fears around the pandemic continue to subside—resulting in a much-appreciated return to restaurant dining rooms—but takeout and delivery remains a way of life.
- 69% of consumers order takeout or delivery as often or more often than last year.
- The No. 1 cuisine consumers say they will always order from restaurants vs. cooking at home? Mexican, followed by seafood and sushi.
How do consumers feel about higher prices and other changes at restaurants?
Consumers understand the significant challenges restaurants are facing and say they are willing to throw in a little extra to help restaurants out. They also welcome new technologies restaurants have implemented to serve guests.
- 68% of consumers are ok with restaurants raising menu prices.
- 51% are ok with restaurants decreasing portion sizes.
- 45% are ok with restaurants adding a temporary inflation fee.
- 71% say restaurant technology, both online and on-premise, makes their guest experience better.
“You can almost hear the rallying cry for restaurants as consumers do their part to support their neighborhood favorites in a precarious time,” says Brendan Sweeney, CEO and Co-founder of Popmenu. “While mindful of their own household economics, 61 percent of consumers said they would pay more to keep restaurants open if a recession hits in 2022 or next year. That says a lot about how important restaurants are to their local communities and how much people rely on and empathize with them.”
“Filling open positions is a major factor in restaurant recovery and ongoing growth,” Sweeney added. “The restaurant labor shortage isn’t going away anytime soon and technology will continue to play a critical part in bridging labor gaps and delivering hospitality guests have come to expect, especially as they pay higher prices.”
Popmenu conducted two nationwide, anonymous surveys on restaurant dining and operations. The first survey included 415 U.S. restaurant owners/operators and ran from August 29 to September 16, 2022. The second survey included 1,000 U.S. consumers, ages 18 and older, and ran from September 21 to September 22, 2022.