Diners plan to dine more in 2022. That’s according to the latest installment of BentoBox’s Restaurant Delivery Consumer Trend Report. A combined 57 percent of respondents said they planned to order somewhat or significantly more frequently from restaurants and third-party platforms, with retirees leading the pack as a whopping 71 percent said they planned to order somewhat or significantly more.
The report, which tracked diner habits quarterly across 2021, found that 85 percent of diners ordered takeout at least once per week in the first half of the year. That dipped slightly in the third quarter, as vaccines became available and dining rooms reopened but recovered to 79 percent during the fourth quarter. It’s unclear if pent-up demand for dine-in ran out in the fourth quarter, or if the rise of new COVID variants forced that demand to stay bottled up.
That is, interestingly, a decline from pre-COVID findings, when 88 percent of diners reported ordering takeout or delivery once per week. More broadly, frequency fell as 2021 wore on, with more diners saying they ordered takeout zero or one times per week and fewer reporting ordering takeout two or more times per week.
Diners, as defined by the report, are those who dined out at least once per week before the pandemic.
The report also shows the appeal of third-party ordering may be wearing out. Twenty-eight percent of respondents said they preferred the ease of apps such as Grubhub and DoorDash in the first quarter of the year. That compares to just 15 percent of respondents in the fourth quarter. That finding came as more respondents said they wanted to better support restaurants—and believed direct ordering was a way to do so—and fewer reported an aversion to ordering by phone.
That isn’t to say third-party platforms are on their way out, though. Young people are over-represented in the “I prefer the ease and convenience of ordering with a delivery app” camp, and a majority of respondents aged 49 and younger said they preferred in-app ordering over placing a phone call.
The desire to support restaurants is in line with respondents’ views about the future of the restaurant industry. Per the report, 84 percent of diners agree that restaurants continue to face a challenging business environment.
Vaccine requirements may not be a magic bullet for dine-in-focused restaurants. A majority of diners’ said their habits would be unaffected by local mandates. Only 10 percent of respondents said vaccine requirements would prompt them to dine in more, while 26 percent said they planned to order more takeout as a result.