With dine-in operators closed across the country due to the coronavirus pandemic, operators have turned to off-premise, and various initiatives, like The Great American Takeout movement, have tried to promote delivery and takeout sales. But new data from Earnest Research, a company that looks at credit and debit card purchasing data for millions of consumers, reveals that the largest third-party marketplaces, like Grubhub, DoorDash, Postmates, and Uber Eats, are declining in growth. Consumers are instead spending more of their dollars at a wide variety of grocery stores.
The data from Earnest Research ends March 18, a little over one a week ago. While a lot has changed in the economy since then, the data offers a glimpse at where consumer dollars started to move as restaurants’ dine-in operations were closing around the country due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Earnest Research recorded national restaurant spend down 17% year-over-year for the week ending March 18, specifically driven by declines in QSR (-12% YoY), fast-casual (-24% YoY), and casual dining (-34% YoY). Spend with delivery aggregators (how Earnest defines third-party marketplaces and delivery app services) decelerated to +11% YoY from mid-twenty percent growth year-to-date.
“Decelerating delivery aggregator spend growth is likely due to increases in grocery spend offsetting restaurant delivery spend,” said Michael Maloof, associate director, consumer brand insights for Earnest Research.
This decline and slow down is in stark contrast to supermarket growth, which saw nearly a 79% year-over-year growth last week.
“Roughly half of the YoY spend increases at brick and mortar grocery locations came from increases in average transaction amount while the other half came from an increase in traffic (number of transactions),” Maloof said. “However, the +66% YoY online grocers sales increase was entirely due to increased traffic, as average transaction size fell 1% YoY. This suggests a shift in shopper behavior as customers are trying online grocery for the first time, increasing their frequency, or both.”
This trend of declining growth in delivery aggregators and increasing growth in grocery sales is also seen in cities that have been the most impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
In New York City, March 16 was the last day of full service at restaurants, but restaurants had already been ordered to lower capacity by 50%. Still, in the week ending March 18, while restaurant sales declined, delivery aggregators saw a negative 5% sales growth. In that same week, online grocers saw nearly 60% sales growth in New York City.
Seattle also closed restaurants on March 16, after struggling to contain the virus for weeks. The latest week’s data saw a 17% increase in sales growth for delivery aggregators year-over-year, a steep decline after seeing growth as high as 144% one week in mid-February. In Seattle, consumers are spending more on online and discount groceries. Those categories saw a 126% and 159% sales growth respectively.
San Francisco, which officially closed restaurants for dine-in operations at the end of the day on March 17, was already seeing restaurants shift focus to takeout and delivery in the weeks before the mandate. But sales to delivery aggregators did not shift with the new focus, according to Earnest's data. Delivery aggregators saw a negative 4% sales growth in the week ending March 18. San Francisco also saw a jump in online and discount grocery sales.
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