LAST UPDATE: OCT. 20, 2021

Tracking the Return to Normal: Dining

Morning Consult is tracking how safe Americans feel dining out at restaurants in light of the COVID-19 pandemic
By: Alyssa Meyers

 

This tracker is part of a series from Morning Consult gauging when consumers will return to normal activities in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more and sign up for alerts.

The restaurant industry, like many others, was hit hard when states across the country first went into lockdowns, and businesses had to rely solely on takeout and delivery to stay afloat. Restaurants have since been able to reopen their dining rooms to various degrees, and though it may take time for the industry to fully recover, Americans are missing the pre-pandemic dining experience. Since Morning Consult began tracking comfort levels in spring 2020, Americans have consistently said the activity they are more comfortable with is dining out.

Morning Consult is tracking pent-up demand and excitement for many of the activities listed on this page. Bookmark this page for weekly updates of these figures, and read our deep dive on which industries will see a post-pandemic boom in consumer demand.

KEY TRENDS

  • Comfort With Dining Out Steadily Increases for Third Week Straight: 69% of U.S. adults said they feel comfortable going out to eat at a restaurant as of an Oct. 14-16 survey, an increase of 2 percentage points from last week and 2 points shy of tying a record high in comfort with the activity first reached on the Fourth of July. The share of adults who said they felt safe dining out didn’t change in September but has  steadily increased in October. 
  • Gap in Comfort With Indoor, Outdoor Dining Slightly Narrows: 74% of adults feel OK eating outdoors at a restaurant, compared to 65% who said they’re OK eating indoors. That’s a gap of 9 points, slightly smaller than the 11-point difference in opinion that emerged in August and largely remained in place into early October. Over the summer, the difference in comfort levels was closer to 7 or 8 points. 
  • Americans Are Ordering More Takeout, Delivery: Takeout remains the most popular option for ordering food, with 39% of consumers saying they order takeout at least once a week as of a mid-October survey, up 3 points from this time last month. The share who said they get food delivered that often also increased by the same amount over that time, from 25% to 28%. Dining in at restaurants is roughly as popular as ordering delivery, with 30% of U.S. adults saying they do so at least once a week.

Comfort Dining Out at Restaurants
The share of respondents who said they feel comfortable going to a restaurant or cafe right now
Weekly surveys are conducted among roughly 2,200 U.S. adults and have a margin of error of +/-2%.

Comfort Dining Outdoors v. Indoors
The share of respondents who said they feel comfortable going to an indoor vs. outdoor restaurant or cafe right now
Weekly surveys are conducted among roughly 2,200 U.S. adults and have a margin of error of +/-2%.

How Americans Are Dining
Adults were asked how often they do the following activities right now:
Survey conducted Oct. 14-16, 2021, among 2,200 U.S. adults with a margin of error of +/-2%.

TRACKING THE RETURN TO NORMAL

When will things return to normal and what will our new normal look like? It’s a question that business, economic and government leaders are grappling with as more and more Americans receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

To help answer this complicated question, Morning Consult is tracking how consumer attitudes are shifting across a wide range of categories, from travel to entertainment to dining, to gain greater insight into not only when consumers will be ready to return to their normal activities, but how their habits will be forever changed. We’ll be updating these pages every week with new data and analyses. Sign up for alerts below.

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