LAST UPDATE: DEC. 1, 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

  • Americans’ Comfort With Dining Out Has Barely Changed All Fall: 66% of U.S. adults said they feel comfortable going out to eat at a restaurant as of a Nov. 29-30 survey, Morning Consult’s first to be conducted since media reports of the omicron variant first surfaced. That’s down 1 percentage point from last week and 4 points from late October, when it roughly matched a record high in comfort with the activity during the pandemic. Comfort with dining out remained at 64% all through September and has since fluctuated only slightly week to week. 
  • Comfort Dining Outdoors Falls for First Time in November: The share of adults who said they feel OK eating outside at a restaurant dropped 4 points from 74% to 70% this week, after three weeks at 74%. Comfort dining inside ticked down 2 points from 64% to 62%, narrowing the difference in opinion between the two options from 10 points to 8 points.
  • Americans Are Ordering Less Takeout, Delivery Than Earlier in November: Takeout remains the most popular option for ordering food, with 35% of consumers saying they order takeout at least once a week as of the latest survey, but that’s down 2 points from early November. The share who said they get food delivered that often also decreased during that time, from 28% to 24%, as did the share who said they go out to eat, from 31% to 29%.

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 Nov. 29-30, 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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