Consumers Are Still Seeking Off-premises Options from Restaurants

While it doesn’t come close to making up for sales losses, a majority of consumers are maintaining their off-premises usage of restaurants.

After mandated on-premises dining area closures were implemented in many parts of the country, tableservice and quickservice operators alike were left with two options – switch to an off-premises-only business model or close completely.

While offering off-premises alone by no means made up for the on-premises sales losses, it did leave consumers with options to satisfy their restaurant cravings during this challenging time. Indeed, the proportion of consumers using off-premises foodservice remained relatively constant during the last several weeks, according to weekly surveys conducted by the National Restaurant Association beginning in late-February 2020.

During each of the last seven weeks, roughly six in 10 adults say they ordered takeout or delivery from a restaurant for their dinner meal. In addition, nearly four in 10 adults say they ordered takeout or delivery for lunch last week – a level that also remained generally steady throughout this crisis.

Off-premises frequency during the morning daypart tailed off slightly in recent weeks, but one in five adults still say that they picked up a breakfast meal, snack or beverage in the morning from a coffee shop or restaurant during the past week.

In contrast, on-premises frequency trended steadily lower in recent weeks, as a growing number of jurisdictions implemented mandated closures of dining areas. Only 11 percent of adults say they went out for dinner at a tableservice or quickservice restaurant last week – down from six in 10 during the first half of March. On-premises lunch and breakfast frequency also fell sharply in recent weeks. 

Read more analysis and commentary from the Association’s chief economist Bruce Grindy.