Adults spending an average of $71 a week dining out

64% of adults say they eat out at least once a week
A woman eating a cheeseburger

If one of your goals for the year is to cook more, you may be in the minority, as a new survey suggests that dining out is a regular part of many consumers’ lives.

ICSC, a membership organization for the retail real estate industry, surveyed 1,004 consumers to gain insight into their preferences when it comes to eating out. Not only did they find that dining out accounts for more than $602 billion in revenue per year, but most consumers consider it to be a part of their typical weekly routine.

Among respondents, 64% of adults spend money dining out at least once a week, spending on average $71 over seven days. Based on that percentage, ICSC projects that nearly 163 million consumers dine out on a weekly basis. On top of that, almost half of respondents said that dining out is an essential part of their lifestyle.

Parents, millennials driving the trend

While singles might find eating out easier than cooking for one, families are increasingly enjoying the benefits of going out to eat. Among survey respondents, 72% of those with children at home said they spend money dining out at least once a week; 41% reported that they eat out more often today than they did two years ago. Among millennial respondents, 72% said they dine out at least once each week (ISCS defines millennials as those between 24 and 39).

Regardless of age or family status, the top reason consumers gave for dining out was convenience.

One thing the survey found is consumers have their fair share of dining options to choose from. In an average week, most survey respondents — 83% — said they dine at fast food and fast casual restaurants. In addition:

  • 67% said they use takeout or delivery services in a typical week
  • 67% dine at full-service restaurants on a weekly basis
  • 41% who order online use curbside pick-up

Regardless of which dining out methods respondents chose, approximately a third said they use those methods more today than they did two years ago. More than 60% of respondents also said that even though they order delivery or takeout more frequently than in the past, that has not stopped them from going to physical restaurants.

Some consumers are also looking for ways to combine their dining out preferences with other forms of leisure and entertainment. Among respondents who frequent restaurants in shopping centers, 76% shop at retail stores and 45% catch a movie while out to eat.

Dining out can definitely add convenience to your life, but it can also do damage to your budget if you’re not careful. Make sure you plan how much you intend to spend, whether you’re going to a restaurant or ordering food in, and stick to that budget. You can also take advantage of cash back programs by using a credit card that rewards dining out. If you’re curious about how your food spending stacks up with other consumers, check out the average household cost of food.

Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a Washington, DC-based writer who covers personal finance, entrepreneurship and careers.