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Today’s Dinner Options

Choices are Expanding for Consumers

graphic showing food ordering in mobile and desktop

rom 2017 to the start of 2020, the average American's spending on food rose by 11.1%. That is a bigger increase than in any other category measured by the consumer price index. Of course, the pandemic disrupted the figures. Still, during those three years before the pandemic, the average American consumer spent 27.9 cents of every dollar they brought home at restaurants. In 2019, people, different branches of the government and businesses spent $1.79 trillion on food purchases. Every company should focus on figuring out how to bring more of the omni-channel food consumption into a convenience store's chain.

Food Delivery

When you start to break down that $1.79 trillion, you discover that more of it than ever before is going to food delivery services. In fact, Americans spend about $200 billion annually on food delivery. The great news for convenience stores is that these delivery drivers must buy gasoline to keep operating. Still, chains must find ways to entice hungry diners to order food from restaurants within their convenience stores. That often requires having the best food at a reasonable price that can be delivered quickly.

The average American consumer spent 27.9 cents of every dollar they brought home at restaurants.

Globally, more restaurants are opting to forgo food delivery companies and hire their food delivery drivers. While this allows companies to bring in more money, it is vital to consider the costs, including rising wages, that having your delivery drivers would cause now and in the future.

Restaurant Dining and Orders Out

In 2019, Americans ate out or ordered food from a restaurant, an average of an average of 5.9 times per week. In 2019, people in Massachusetts spent the most, with the average person spending $3,505. Those in Nevada spent the least, with the average person spending $1,782.

Many convenience stores already offer ready-to-go, heat and eat and hot and cold bar options in their locations. Consumers are demanding more choices with a particular emphasis on healthy food choices. Therefore, convenience stores and restaurants must find ways to entice customers to come into their locations to pick up their food or to dine at their establishments. They must work with vendors to ensure they offer enticing options that will encourage consumers to buy more food more often.

Convenience stores must capture more of the dinner market because spending on dinners away from home equaled the amount spent on lunches, brunches and breakfasts combined. Note that more people purchased lunch away from home than any other meal. Consumers bought more fast food at lunchtime than at dinnertime. They had a definite preference for sit-down restaurants when their workday was through.

Dining at Home

Approximately 56% of all money spent on food is still prepared within American homes. People with children were more likely to eat at home. Singles and couples are most likely to skip preparing a meal, eat in a restaurant, or grab something on their way home.

One area that is quickly developing is meal subscription services. Many consumers report that they dislike being locked into these plans that often offer very few choices. Therefore, this is an area where restaurants and convenience stores may capture more of the market share by offering meal kits that are ready for consumers to prepare at home but provide many options on what is included in the meal.

The average American meal travels 1,500 miles before it reaches the dinner table, but many consumers find that figure unacceptable. Instead, they want meals that local chefs prepare and feature locally-produced foods.


Restaurants and convenience stores can still capture more of the food dollar, but they must change their business models to accommodate consumer demands. People want meals that are locally produced using locally grown products whenever possible. They want these meals to be healthier for them. It is also essential to provide consumers with choices on how far along their food preparation is as some will want ready-to-eat meals while others will want to finish preparing the meal in their kitchen. There is a lot of room for new business models, and companies need to capture and analyze data to show them what their customers want the most.

August 5, 2022