Dining in at restaurants was one of the first activities to go when the coronavirus outbreak became a full-blown pandemic. The evidence is clear when looking at the accelerated rate of people eating at home more than usual in the first quarter of 2020 followed by a spike in Q2. It has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels.

The transition to food delivery in place of eating out was notable. Reports of delivery apps doing exceptionally well were all over the news. CivicScience tracking of delivery apps that allow users to get food from restaurants that don’t typically deliver, shows a slow and steady quarter-over-quarter increase in usage starting in Q1 2020. The last three months suggest either a plateau or possible decline in usage in the near future.

A possible counterbalance to the rise in food delivery is a general eagerness to dine in at restaurants. December 2020 marked a turning point at which the data indicate a clear and steady rise in the number of folks planning to eat out in a restaurant. 

Given the fact that Americans are growing increasingly comfortable in a restaurant setting, CivicScience cross-tabulated intent to eat out in the next week by preferred food delivery app. 

DoorDash has held tightly to its share of the U.S. delivery apps market. CivicScience data show U.S. adults prefer DoorDash to any other service, with second-place GrubHub a full 46% behind.

Those who have been planning to dine in at a restaurant align with the Gen Pop’s preference for DoorDash. But people who plan to order takeout or delivery show a greater love of UberEats than people planning to dine in at a restaurant or those who don’t plan to get any food from a restaurant in the near future.

Types of Restaurants 

Independent, local restaurants have been the favorite eat-out destination for Americans for some time, but the total percentage of the population eating at predominantly local establishments has risen to over 30%. 

People who get food delivered using apps like GrubHub and DoorDash have a preference for fast food and fast casual eats, two types of restaurants whose preferred customers have remained relatively loyal during the pandemic. The growing number of people who eat mostly local, independent fare are found among those who don’t get food delivered through apps.

The closer the pandemic comes to a relative close, the more likely we are to see Americans heading to eat out at restaurants. While this doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll stop getting their favorite foods delivered, it does mean a slight slow down for apps that may have gotten used to a momentum of orders pre-vaccine. It’s a smart move by many apps that are planning to break the confines of takeout delivery and expand to other delivery offerings.