Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

Weekly Retail Update: April 19, 2021

Food Delivery Monthly Sales Rebound in March

Advance estimates of food service and drinking place sales increased 36% in March 2021 from March 2020 figures, as the easing of some pandemic-related restrictions, distribution of stimulus payments, and vaccine distribution resulted in consumers returning to restaurants and bars. The year-over-year increase in March is the first year-over-year increase in 2021 for food services and drinking places as it demonstrates how eager consumers are to get up and go out again as in-store foot traffic ticked upward. While the year-over-year growth in food service and drinking place sales was quite dramatic, we have to understand that March 2020 and March 2021 are vastly different. In March 2020, stores and restaurants were ordered to close in the middle of the month as a result of the pandemic, which significantly reduced traditional dine-in sales. The result of closing traditional dine-in operations was an uptick in curbside, drive-up, and delivery sales. Now, in March 2021, traditional dine-in operations have resumed in more capacity than a year ago, we know more about COVID-19, we have vaccines that are being distributed, consumers feel safer with respect to the health situation, and consumer sentiment is better about the economy.

Line graph: Food Services and Drinking Places Year-Over-Year Percent Changes, January 2010 to November 2020

On a month-over-month basis, we saw a rebound from the low point of the year, February, with warmer weather arriving as winter weather was no longer a constraint on sales for March, 13.4% increase.

Similar to food service and drinking place sales, online food delivery sank in February and recovered in March. Month-over-month food delivery monthly sales increased in March 2021 from February 2021 and March 2021 food delivery sales increased more than 116% on a year-over-year basis.

Area chart: Food Delivery Monthly Sales by Delivery Service, January 2018 to March 2021

DoorDash continues to acquire the majority of food delivery sales, holding 55% in March. Uber Eats had the second most sales with 22%. Grubhub took third with 17% of food delivery sales in March. Postmates, which was acquired by Uber towards the end of January, acquired a 5% share of U.S. food delivery monthly sales in March.