Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

Weekly Retail Update: March 12, 2021

Food Delivery Monthly Sales Expand in January

Advanced estimates of food service and drinking place sales increased 6.9% in January 2021 from December 2020 figures as some state and local authorities eased some COVID-related restrictions. The month-over-month increase in January is the first month-over-month increase since September 2020 for food services and drinking places.

Line graph: Food Services and Drinking Places Year-Over-Year Percent Changes, January 2010 to January 2021

Although food service and drinking places realized a month-over-month increase, the January sales estimate was $54.6 billion, which represents a 16.6% year-over-year decrease. Food services and drinking places still need an additional $10.8 billion to reach pre-pandemic peak sales figures. The recovery outlook is improving for food services and drinking places as a trajectory for a complete recovery is coupled with how safe consumers feel about returning to brick-and-mortar retail. As more vaccines come to market and more consumers are vaccinated, full herd immunity could potentially be achieved in the back-half of the year, which would be positive news for not only food services and drinking places, but all of retail.

The dichotomy between traditional brick-and-mortar food service and drinking place retail and online food delivery is quite fascinating. Online food delivery continues to function at record highs as consumer digital behavior shift as a result of the pandemic. Similar to food service and drinking place January estimates, online food delivery monthly sales increased in January from the prior month.

Month-over-month food delivery monthly sales increased in January from Decembers’ record-high sales. Food delivery monthly sales continue to record new record highs as time progresses. January food delivery sales increased more than 164% year-over-year.

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

DoorDash obtained the majority of food delivery sales in January with a 56% share of sales. Uber Eats had the second most sales with 20%. Grubhub took third with 17% of food delivery sales in January. Postmates, which was acquired by Uber towards the end of January, acquired a 6% share of U.S. food delivery monthly sales in January.