The recession may have put a crimp in consumer spending, but most Americans are still letting the good times roll in restaurants, found the first LivingSocial “Dining Out” survey of consumer behavior. The survey, conducted last month among 4,000 online Americans by Mandala Research, found some surprising facts about eating habits, culinary choices, and favorite foods.
Among the top findings of the survey:
Americans Love Eating Out
- The average American eats 4.8 meals per week in restaurants or 249 total restaurant meals per year (both dining in and carry out).
- The most popular restaurant meal is lunch, with 2.6 eaten on average each week (both carryout and dining), followed by sit down dinners (1.4 per week) and brunch/breakfast (.8 per week).
A Nation of Unhealthy Eaters
- Nearly half of respondents (45 percent) described themselves as “meat lovers,” 22 percent as a “sweet tooth,” and 19 percent as “fast food junkies”
- By comparison, just 18 percent described themselves as “health nuts” and 5 percent as “vegetarians or vegans”
A Growing Group of Gourmands
- More than one in three respondents (35 percent) described themselves as “experimental eaters,” 25 percent as “foodies,” and 11 percent as “locavores”
- Only 4 percent regularly eat at the growing number of food trucks in major cities.
The Best and Worst Dining Out Cities? New York and Detroit Bookend the List
- When respondents were asked to rank their city’s dining scene, little surprise that New York, Chicago and San Francisco finished in the top three slots.
- More surprising were Houston, Dallas, and Washington, DC rounding out the top six.
- The worst dining out cities in the U.S. were Seattle, Sacramento and – in last place – Detroit.
The Big Four Cuisines Dominate Eating Out
- Four types of restaurants dominate the eating scene with Americans saying they frequently eat Italian (65 percent), Mexican (62 percent), Chinese (59 percent) and Pizza (58 percent) more than 22 other types of cuisine.
- Regional favorites also emerged strong, with Bostonians backing their Irish roots, Atlanta adoring delis, Detroit doting on Middle Eastern food, and Seattle savoring its Vietnamese.
Try Some Thai: the Nation’s Hottest New Cuisine
- When asked which new type of restaurant they’d most recently tried, Thai finished on top, beating out 25 other types of cuisine.
- Outside of the big four, the other top finishers among new cuisines tried by respondents included seafood, Sushi, Greek, BBQ and Indian foods.
Eating with the Ones We Love
- Spouses top the national list of dining companions with 56 percent saying they dined out with their spouse or partners almost every time or every time.
- Other popular dining companions included friends (25 percent almost every time), followed by dates (8 percent) and business colleagues (6 percent).
“As a leader in local commerce, LivingSocial has its finger on the pulse the hottest trends in more than 575 markets worldwide,” said LivingSocial Local Trend Expert Amy Wolf. “The Dining Out survey gives us additional insight into local markets so that we can not only continue to bring our members great values on the deals they want, but also help merchants determine the deals that will be most successful for their business.”
The survey also revealed some surprising dining insights about America’s biggest cities.
Los Angeles: King of the Fast Food Nation
- LA residents are more likely to describe themselves as “fast food junkies” than residents of any other major U.S. city.
- Let’s do brunch! More Los Angeles respondents said they sit down for brunch or breakfast than in other major city.
New York: We’re the #1 Dining Scene
- New Yorkers rank their city the best in the country for its dining scene.
- They also consider themselves the “most experimental” eaters in the country and top “foodies.”
- Perhaps not surprisingly, the city also ranks #1 among Italian eateries visited by diners.
Washington, D.C.: America’s Capital of Vegetarians, Ethiopian Eats
- When asked to describe their eating habits, more Capitol City diners say they don’t eat meat than in any other metropolis polled.
- The city also leads the nation in residents who enjoy Ethiopian cuisine.
Minneapolis-St. Paul: Staying In, Dinnerless Dates
- Twin Cities’ respondents revealed that they eat out fewer times a week than residents in any other major US city.
- Minneapolis-St. Paul also ranked last among residents who eat out on dates.
Conducting the “Dining Out” survey and constantly examining member preferences allows LivingSocial to offer compelling ways to discover and experience cities around the world.
Full survey results are available upon request.
The first LivingSocial “Dining Out” survey was conducted among 4,000 consumers in the top 20 media markets (DMAs) by Mandala Research, LLC. Respondents were consumers 18+ who have made a purchase online within the past six months or are “very likely” to make a purchase online within the next 6 months. The survey was conducted online.
LivingSocial helps people around the world find, share and enjoy great local deals and new experiences. We’ll help you get more out of your city. Through its daily deal e-mails and alerts, LivingSocial introduces members to handpicked local businesses, products or services each day at savings of 50 percent or more. With a range of products for different interests, like Families and Adventures, LivingSocial helps delight members with the perfect deal for them. Other services include LivingSocial Escapes, which features easy “vacations in a box” to leading destinations, and LivingSocial Instant, which helps members discover real-time discounts at nearby restaurants, stores and businesses. LivingSocial works with each merchant partner to create customized marketing solutions that attract and retain loyal, long-term customers. Based in Washington, D.C., LivingSocial now has more than 43 million members in 25 countries.