Consumer Insights

The Fast Food Economy Flip

Americans would rather eat out than cook at home, says the latest data from U.S. Census Bureau.

Americans would rather eat out than cook at home, says the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

In the last year, sales at U.S. restaurant and drinking establishments surpassed those of grocery stores, which, until now, have long held the top place where Americans spent the most on their food.

Food Spending_USDA

Source: Quartz

While part of the reason for the drop in spending at grocery stores is credited to a downfall in prices, one of the other factors affecting the trend is the downfall in prices with grocery chains, like Walmart, competing to cut themselves a bigger share.

Over the years, dairy and meat products in particular have seen a big drop in prices, which, in turn, affects the overall spending, Quartz reported.

When a comparison is drawn between the spending at grocery stores and food and drinking establishments, it can be seen that the gap has constantly narrowed since 1994. The shift underpins a change in the cultural paradigm, with more Americans preferring to eat out than at home. The change comes against a growing number of women joining the workforce since the 1970s, as Quartz pointed out.

The uptick in consumer spending at food establishments also highlights an increase in calorie intake. The average American’s calorie consumption away from home has gone up from 18 percent in 1978 to 32 percent in 2008, Quartz reported.


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