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  • Cortney Moore, FOXBusiness

Food and alcohol delivery and takeout will remain mainstays in 2023: report

Updated: Apr 24, 2023

National Restaurant Association’s '2023 State of the Industry' report unveils how delivery and takeout 'pandemic pivots' have become 'permanent.'

Restaurants in America are expecting to see a growing number of delivery and takeout orders for food and alcohol in 2023 despite inflation.

A recent forecast published in the National Restaurant Association’s "2023 State of the Industry" report is suggesting that the industry might reach $997 billion in sales, and a significant portion of that money could be linked to rising menu prices, which include food and alcohol.

Researchers at the National Restaurant Association, which is based in Washington, D.C., and represents more than 380,000 restaurants in the United States, have found that many restaurants are turning delivery- and takeout-focused "pandemic pivots" into "permanent" business additions.

In the quick-service, fast casual and coffee and snack sector, four in 10 restaurant operators believe that drive-thru lanes will "become more common in 2023" as consumers continue to order food on the go, according to the National Restaurant Association.

Among fine-dining restaurants, 79% of restaurant operators offered delivery for the first time when the COVID-19 pandemic began. Eight in 10 operators are reportedly planning to continue delivery options in 2023.

Throughout the American restaurant industry, more than nine in 10 restaurant operators are reportedly planning to continue outdoor dining and alcohol-to-go if it’s allowed by the jurisdiction in which they operate.

"During the pandemic, new laws and regulations allowing alcohol-to-go sales became a lifeline for many operators and a way for consumers to enjoy more of the restaurant experience at home," wrote Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of research and knowledge at the National Restaurant Association, in an email to FOX Business. "It’s a win-win for operators and guests."

He added that "American consumers love restaurant food" and that the rise of "mobile ordering and payment technologies" have made it easier for diners to order meals and drinks at almost any time they want.

While mobile apps and digital payment services have helped delivery and takeout orders trend upward, not all restaurants are embracing technology as a "leading edge," according to the National Restaurant Association’s report.

More than four in 10 restaurant operators claim they’re planning to invest in "equipment or technology" that improves "front- and back-of-the-house productivity" in 2023, which will mostly be in the "payment space," the industry report says.

"Additionally, the shift to more employees working from home has given restaurants more opportunities to attract customers throughout the day," Riehle told FOX Business. "In fact, 55% of consumers say takeout or delivery food is essential to the way they and we expect this trend to continue."

Other findings the National Restaurant Association’s 2023 State of the Industry report has uncovered include two-thirds of American adults saying they order takeout more than they did pre-pandemic, more than four in 10 limited-service operators saying they think "off-premises-only locations" will grow in popularity and 69% of American adults saying they like outside-dining options.

According to the National Restaurant Association, 84% of American consumers reportedly say they like to go to restaurants with family and friends.

Challenges that restaurants will likely face in 2023 include the rising costs of food and competition.

The restaurant business association reports that 92% of operators say food costs are causing a "significant issue," while 47% of operators say they "expect competition to be more intense than last year."

The National Restaurant Association’s 2023 report predicts that American consumers will continue to spend money at restaurants and on meal kits that provide measured ingredients with cooking instructions.


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