Americans Embrace Old Dining Habits, New Payment Methods

Restaurant Payments

With two-thirds of American consumers saying they’re now eating in restaurants following the COVID-19 pandemic, one aspect of dining out is a bit different: the way people pay.

According to PYMNTS’ research, the share of consumers choosing to frequent fast food and table-service restaurants rose in February, a trend that is likely to continue.

In February, 68% of consumers purchased food from either fast food or table-service restaurants. Interest in restaurant dining had waned to 66% in January, compared to a high of 73% in December as holiday gatherings ended and the omicron variant became a greater concern for consumers.

All the same, 32% of consumers purchased food through other channels, with 16% using mobile devices to do so. Phone ordering accounted for 7% of food item purchases, making it a more common purchasing method than using a laptop or desktop, which clocked in at just 5%.

And even as consumers return to dining out, they are increasingly turning to digital payment methods. PYMNTS research finds that while cash is used more often than digital wallets, PayPal and other digital wallets now account for the same total value spent on food items.

For instance, 16% of restaurant sales came from cash payments, while PayPal and other digital wallets account for just 6%. Still, consumer spending on such purchases was roughly equal at $8.1 billion for PayPal and other digital wallets and $8.3 billion for cash.

Meanwhile, debit cards remain the most-used payment method for restaurant sales, beating credit cards by approximately 4 percentage points. Credit cards did make up a larger share of restaurant spending in February, however. Consumers reported using credit cards to spend $29.8 billion on food during the month, versus $25.3 billion spent using debit cards.

To learn more about how spending habits are changing in the wake of COVID-19, download a copy of Digital Economy Payments: Going Digital To Pay For Travel And Restaurant Dining.