EMERGING NEWS 

Darden Restaurants had 49% of dining rooms open as of May 17

Americans spend around 1.5 billion meals in public restaurants each week. They could spend that time on their phones instead, and spend less on average per meal.

The rise of mobile ordering and paying has reduced the need for dining rooms – with online ordering systems on smartphones making it more convenient for consumers to avoid expensive restaurant tabs – but it hasn’t made dining rooms obsolete, as some people thought.

A survey released by YCharts and Statista, with an update this week, says about a quarter of Americans have used a mobile ordering system and will use mobile ordering more in the future. Seventy-five percent said they are more likely to pay with a mobile device.

Despite fewer diners visiting dining rooms, dining rooms remain the third most used venue for restaurant orders. And, while McDonald’s may see fewer customers dining in its restaurants due to more people ordering online, the McDelivery service in which the company partnered with Uber Eats is providing a substantial boost. It had 14 million meals, or more than 3,800 orders per minute, delivered in just a year in the U.S. alone.

Still, Americans spent about 5% less per meal in 2018 than they did in 2017 on food as a whole.

That’s why I love the strategy of using customer sentiment from “greedy foodies” over Amazon. We also found that 19% of Americans are looking to go back to eat in a less crowded restaurant, based on their outlook for the food delivery space.

If the restaurant industry wants to keep people coming back, it must take measures to enable enough restaurant traffic to open up meaningful opportunities for small businesses and startups – the very reason people enjoy going to restaurants in the first place.

People in their 20s, the group that restaurants most need to see coming back, are generally negative about online ordering systems and food delivery.

But millennials in particular are not happy with the lack of curbside pickup.

The future of the restaurant industry will likely include more restaurants that offer multiple delivery options (Amazon will be here for the long haul; getting it right is the question).

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