In recent weeks, U.S. adults have had greater access to a restaurant experience. At the same time, COVID-19 cases continue to rise. CivicScience examined U.S. adults’ experiences with dining in, takeout, and delivery since the coronavirus pandemic started, and their future plans to do so. 

As the data show, the majority of Americans have eaten at –or from– a restaurant in some manner during the pandemic, with 42% opting for just takeout or delivery. Almost a quarter of respondents (22%) have dined at a restaurant and 18% have done both.  

Looking forward, however, it seems that sentiment may be shifting. In the next week, plans to dine in a restaurant are a bit lower, while the percentage of those indicating that they will do neither is higher (34%). The takeout game is still strong at 40%.

During the week of July 5,  the percentage of those who planned to dine in at a restaurant in the week ahead was at 12%. By the end of July into early August, that number appears to be rebounding at 17%.

What’s more: For the first time since the start of the pandemic, CivicScience data show a notable increase in the percentage of people who order take out or go out to eat for dinner on a weekly basis. This now eclipses the number of people who say they rarely or never do so. 

Who’s Dining Out? Younger Adults, Men + High Income Earners 

To perhaps no one’s surprise, younger adults are the most likely to have eaten out at a restaurant during the pandemic. We see similar percentages among the age groups who have both dined in and ordered out, but of the predominantly Gen X group (35-54) we see a slightly higher percentage reporting they have done both during the pandemic (19%). 

However, looking at the next week, the 18-24 age group is the most likely to say they will both dine in and order takeout. But still, 31% say they will do neither.

The 35-54 group’s plans to do both in the next week has dramatically decreased from the overall percentage since the start of the pandemic.

In terms of comfort levels, men have eaten in a restaurant at a slightly higher rate, while women take the lead with takeout–a trend that looks likely to continue. 

One trend that continues to be true is in regard to income, namely, a higher income correlates to more eating out. This has largely been the case throughout the pandemic, as those with the resources have been more likely to purchase restaurant food. 

Personal COVID Impact 

Changes to the workplace –or lack thereof– is another factor that impacts an individual’s desire to eat out. Those who are working as usual or more –without working from home, losing pay or decreasing hours– are the most likely to have plans to dine out and have takeout from a restaurant.

Additionally, those who are both dining in at a restaurant and ordering takeout show a strong correlation with having a personal connection to the virus–either through contracting it themselves or personally knowing someone who has. On the other hand, those who are doing none of these things are the most likely to have no direct connection to the coronavirus. Again, in the realm of data, correlation is not causation.

Dining and takeout habits appear to be changing rapidly. CivicScience will report future changes in the dining habits of U.S. consumers.