Friday night takeout is keeping U.S. restaurants afloat during economic, COVID-19 crises

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While the COVID-19 pandemic has marked the end of weekly traditions like Taco Tuesdays, Wine Wednesdays, and Sunday brunches, new habits like ordering Friday night takeout and delivery may be bringing economically-devastated restaurants back from a point of no return.

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According to a report in The Washington Post, companies are reporting a spike in off-premises dining in the second quarter of this year, with figures from market research firm Technomic doubling Friday and Saturday night to about 24% of overall sales.

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Technomic collected data from 27,000 chain restaurants.

In addition, delivery tracker and loyalty-based marketing and financial service Rewards Network found that the average number of delivery and takeout orders since the beginning of the pandemic was 31% higher on Fridays and the average order dollar value had been raised 34%.

People sit outside at a restaurant currently only doing take away food. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

Uber also saw an increase in Friday afternoon and evening orders and although Grubhub doesn’t break out order trends by day of the week, Q2 earnings revealed that gross food sales grew 59% year over year.

But, sit-down restaurants told the Post they were seeing weekend action as well — both curbside and in-person — in the last few weeks of the summer. Some customers even brought their own chairs.

Owners speculated that the convenience of outdoor or curbside dining and the relative safety of takeout — nixing delivery fees — has enticed curious restaurant-goers looking for some sense of normalcy.

A July poll conducted by the market research firm Mintel found that 60% of Americans weren't yet comfortable sitting down to eat in a restaurant and 44% weren't even comfortable dining outside. Hence, the jump in takeout orders and the amount of food ordered.

Remote work and fewer cars have also boded well for restaurants.

To accommodate the movement and keep afloat amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, many restaurants have launched family meals to-go on Fridays and other creative tactics.

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The alternative is not pretty.

Data from Yelp released at the end of July showed that 60% of the restaurants that had temporarily closed due to the virus — or about 16,000 — have since closed for good.

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