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51% Decline in Spending on
Food Away from Home

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

From Cheryl Russell, Demo Memo

Americans spent 51% less on food away from home in March 2020 than in March 2019, according to the USDA's Economic Research Service. Spending on food at home was 19% greater than a year earlier.

Food-at-home spending is defined as spending on food at grocery stores, super centers, convenience stores, and other retailers. Food-away-from-home spending is defined as spending on food at restaurants, school cafeterias, sports venues, and other eating-out places.

Total spending on eating out, including tax and tips, was $72 billion in March 2019 and just $36 billion in March 2020. This is the smallest monthly amount spent on eating out in the history of the series, which dates back to 1997. February 2020’s spending is the second lowest.

Change in spending February 2019 and February 2020 (in constant dollars)

Groceries: +6.5%

Eating-out: -39.3%

Change in spending, March 2019 and March 2020 (in constant dollars)

Groceries: +18.8%

Eating-out: -51.0%

Source: USDA Economic Research Service, Eating-Out Expenditures in March 2020 Were 51 Percent Below March 2019 Expenditures

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