Third-party delivery is growing, but restaurant consumers don't prefer it

The pandemic has disrupted people's shopping, dining and entertainment behaviors for almost half a year now. But now that people have had a chance to acclimate to a new lifestyle, what new habits are forming?

In a general population survey of nearly 1000 respondents, we asked "Which of the following things have you done since the start of COVID-19 (roughly mid March)? It was multi selectable. Shown in the graph below is the percent of people in the population that have done each of the activities listed.


Off-prem restaurant dining was the most common response. 55% of the population has picked up food from a restaurant and 42% have ordered restaurant food for delivery. Conversely, on-prem has been much less common: 28% have eaten indoors at a restaurant and 24% have eaten outdoors at a restaurant.

These survey findings emphasize the importance of off-prem activity for restaurants. The relative magnitude of food pickup and delivery versus dining-in illustrates the incredibly high importance of off-prem in today's world.

Third-party delivery (3PD) has become increasingly popular during the pandemic. Since late March, consumer spending on third-party delivery platforms has averaged an astounding +130% growth year over year.*

DMAs that have seen the largest uptick in consumer spending on third-party delivery are ones where it wasn't as popular before the pandemic. The following DMAs saw the largest relative increase in 3PD user adoption:

  • Mobile, AL / Pensacola, FL
  • Orlando / Daytona Beach / Melbourne, FL
  • Hartford / New Haven, CT
  • Charleston, SC

And cities where third-party delivery was already popular before the pandemic are the ones where 3PD spending has seen the smallest relative growth year over year:

  • Houston, TX
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • San Francisco / Oakland / San Jose, CA
  • Dayton, OH
  • Cincinnati, OH
  • New York, NY

delivery-preferenceDoorDash and UberEats have seen the largest growth in market share since the pandemic started, while DoorDash still holds the #1 spot in terms of nationwide share of third-party delivery spending.

While many restaurants wouldn't survive without third-party delivery in the current climate, it does have its downsides. It cuts into margins, raises prices for consumer, and intermediates the relationship between the restaurant and their customer.

First-party delivery can solve for many of these obstacles. And there is good news: 63% of consumers prefer to order delivery directly from the restaurant.

Additionally, old-school first-party delivery methods are still alive and well. 26% of people report that they've ordered delivery via a phone call to the restaurant since the pandemic started.


Investing in first-party can help restaurants take back the relationship with their customers, preserve margins, and meet the moment in which off-prem is more important than ever.

For more detail on these insights, download a limited version of the slide deck below. If you'd like the full version, just email us at



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*Year-over-Year Growth of Weekly Spend per Panelist on Restaurant 3rd Party Delivery. National; Relative %; average spend per credit/debit panelist. Based on credit and debit spend among brands and 3PD platforms tracked by Sense360.