Consumers in the U.S. Spend 30% of Monthly Food Budgets on Restaurants, Down from 40% in 2022

Demand for dining out remains positive, but tighter consumer budgets mean restaurants will need to compete more aggressively for their business - Higher menu prices and added fees are affecting tips

May 10, 2024 - 11:38
May 10, 2024 - 11:39
Consumers in the U.S. Spend 30% of Monthly Food Budgets on Restaurants, Down from 40% in 2022
  • Demand for dining out remains positive, but tighter consumer budgets mean restaurants will need to compete more aggressively for their business
  • Higher menu prices and added fees are affecting tips

Consumers love restaurants—64% said they would dine at or order from restaurants every day if they could manage it—but a prolonged struggle with inflation is tempering their spend and gratuities for staff. On average, consumers today spend 30% of their individual or family food budgets on restaurants each month, down from 40% in May 2022. Nearly 2 in 5 (38%) say they are spending the same or more on restaurant meals compared to last year, but are tipping less. This is according to Popmenu's nationwide study of 1,000 U.S. consumers in April 2024.

Eating and drinking places generated $93.7 billion on a seasonally adjusted basis in March 2024, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Following a decline in December and January, industry revenue grew in February and March—but is still trailing a $94.2 billion high in November.

"Although restaurant industry sales remain healthy, competition for guests has intensified over the last several months," said Brendan Sweeney, CEO and Co-founder of Popmenu. "Consumers are doing their homework: 80% research restaurant menus online as they assess dishes, cost, convenience, and other drivers of dining decisions. Restaurants who are winning and growing are 1) offering more budget-friendly menu options or discounts and 2) actively engaging consumers across digital channels to entice them to order online or in person."

What consumers want:

  • More leftovers: Half (52%) of consumers say they prioritize restaurants that offer bigger portions, so they have leftovers for another meal.
  • Bigger, better deals: 66% of consumers choose restaurants that provide more affordable menu items or special offers.
  • Fewer fees: 67% of consumers prefer to order directly from a restaurant's website vs. a third party, primarily to avoid fees and take advantage of cheaper menus.
  • More rewards: 45% frequent restaurants that offer a loyalty program.

Survey Methodology
Popmenu conducted an anonymous, nationwide study of 1,000 U.S. consumers, ages 18 and older, from April 16 to April 17, 2024.