LAST UPDATE: JULY 21, 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: Sarah Shevenock

 

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 TAKEAWAYS

  • Comfort Dining Out Dips From Last Week’s Record High: Following last week’s high, the share of adults who said they currently feel OK eating at a restaurant dipped 1 percentage point to 70 percent. Comfort levels were similar across generations,with baby boomers (72 percent) expressing the most amount of comfort and Gen Xers (68 percent) expressing the least. 
  • Comfort With Outdoor Dining Is Still Significantly Higher Than Indoor: With summer in full swing, Americans continue to prefer outdoor dining over indoor dining. Seventy-five percent of U.S. adults said they currently feel safe sitting down for a meal outside, compared to 68 percent who said so about indoor dining. That’s a gap of 7 points, roughly the same difference reported through the rest of the summer. 
  • On-Premises Dining Roughly as Popular as Takeout: 38 percent of consumers said they order takeout at least once a week, while 34 percent said they dine in at a restaurant that often. Twenty-nine percent of Americans said they get food delivered at least once a week, typically the least popular choice of the three.
  • 45% of Consumers Are Excited to Dine Out Again:. Among generations, millennials (53 percent) expressed the most excitement to return to eating out. However, members of older generations are most likely to say they’re already doing the activity: 40 percent of baby boomers said they already go out to eat, compared with 25 percent of Gen Z adults.

70% of Americans Feel Comfortable 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%.

Americans Prefer Dining Outdoors to 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%.

38% Ordering Takeout at Least Weekly, Compared to 34% Dining In
Adults were asked how often they do the following activities right now:
Survey conducted July 15-17, 2021, among 2,200 U.S. adults with a margin of error of +/-2%.

45% of Americans Excited to Return to Restaurants
Adults were asked how excited they are about the opportunity to return to restaurants once the pandemic is under control and the economy has fully reopened
Survey conducted July 15-17, 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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