Past CivicScience readings of food delivery services during quarantine showed a steady increase in people ordering in. In the last two weeks of May, that number went up another percentage point to 25% of U.S. adults. While the trend is still alive and well, this week’s pulse digs into where consumers stand with going out to eat rather than getting delivery.

Delivery vs. Dine In

Overall, U.S. adults are almost evenly divided on comfort levels returning to restaurants. Thirty-four percent would be comfortable in under a month, 38% in 2-5 months, and 28% in 6 or more months.

Food delivery users fall significantly below the gen pop in likelihood to return to a restaurant  The data indicate food delivery users aren’t wildly interested in going to a restaurant in the next few weeks. In fact, they fall significantly below the gen pop comfortable returning in under a month. While still below the gen pop average, those who do not use food delivery services showed a slightly greater likeliness to return to a restaurant in under a month than their counterparts.

Eating in a restaurant is a  somewhat polarizing subject: non-users of food delivery are more adamant about both returning to restaurants in under a month and waiting 6 months or more while those who do get food delivered appear to take more of a middle ground. 

Profile of an Eager Restaurant-Goer 

As it turns out, there are several factors in play when it comes to determining how soon consumers will be ready to return to restaurants. 

Those who have been working as usual – but not from home – during the pandemic are the most comfortable returning to restaurants sooner. And it is no surprise to learn that those who have continued working as usual are the ones least concerned about being in public spaces. It’s likely these individuals are more at ease in a restaurant because they are more at ease around other people in general.

However, age and income also play a role in comfortability returning to restaurants: younger adults and wealthier adults having fewer hesitations about eating out in the near-er future. 

So while delivery and takeout continue to play a role in the “eating out” experience for Americans, desire to return to an actual restaurant is nuanced. Those already getting delivery will likely return in 2-5 months.