The increase in women in the workforce over the past few decades has boosted economic growth, productivity and wages in the U.S. It has also profoundly changed America’s dining habits.
According to a new report by Credit Suisse, 60% of Americans order food delivery “more often because they don’t feel like cooking.” And the bank attributes this shift, at least in part, to more women being out of the house.
Women’s participation in the U.S. labor market has nearly doubled, from 34% of working age women (16 and older) in the workforce in 1950 to almost 57% in 2016.
“The increase of women in the labor force over the last several decades has been a notable factor in driving an increase in food away from home stomach share,” the report says. (In a typical household, if both spouses work, who’s around to cook dinner?)
Women’s decision to delay marriage in their childbearing years – particularly among millennials – means they will likely “maintain younger generational trends” for a longer period of time than previous generations, according to Credit Suisse. As the median age of women (28) and men (30) at their first marriage has climbed since the 1990’s, the share of food consumed away from home has peaked proportionally.
Pressed for time, half of Americans get food delivered – and restaurants are taking a bigger bite out of consumers’ wallets. The fact that eating at restaurants is relatively more expensive than consuming food bought at grocery stores has not been a deterrent, according to Credit Suisse.
Americans spend roughly $1.6 trillion on food annually with $747 billion on food they’ll consume at home bought at grocery stores, warehouse clubs, convenience stores, and other food services.
But that number is dwarfed by the $869 billion people spend on food prepared outside their home: $5 billion on food at drinking places, $311 billion on full-service restaurants, $314 billion on limited-service restaurants, $36 billion on meals at hotels and motels, and $203 billion on other places.
The convenience of delivery
While consumers across all generations spend about 12% to 14% of their budgets on food, an increasing amount of that food budget is being spent on fast food, takeout, and delivery.
Delivery is seeing the most growth, currently representing $35 billion of U.S. restaurant sales and expected to surpass overall restaurant growth over the next few years, according to Credit Suisse.
Among the top fast food restaurants that deliver, Credit Suisse says Domino’s (DPZ) has the best delivery infrastructure, while Chipotle (CMG) is the only large restaurant to have delivery integrated in its app.
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