Food delivery, common in urban areas where population is dense and car ownership is low, is expanding to the suburbs and beyond thanks to the rise of digital services connecting users to restaurants.
Diners used to have just pizza and Chinese to choose from, but now their options include fast food, higher-end fare, food carts and even virtual restaurants that serve as commissaries to fuel delivery orders rather than sit-down customers.
Popular restaurants for delivery are even starting to reallocate space to accommodate staging areas and to make up for fewer in-store diners. This follows a similar square footage repurposing trend that is happening in the grocery industry.
A year and a half ago, a majority of US internet users (52%) looked to a restaurant's own app or website to order food delivery. Grubhub was favored by around one-third, according to Cowen and Company.
Since then, Grubhub has gained market share due to its 2017 acquisition of Eat24 from Yelp. The company phased out the separate Eat24 ordering platform in August 2018.
Food delivery adoption is very much tied to age. Overall, 36% of US internet users ordered restaurant delivery in the past year per Market Force Information, but it was the under-35 group driving this. Not only do younger users have higher adoption rates, but they also use delivery services more frequently. In a move to capture active Gen Z users, Grubhub bought Tapingo, an on-demand food service for college campuses, in September 2018.
By some measures, though, the average US internet user isn't all that interested in having food delivered. According to a March 2018 TrendSource survey, ordering online for pickup is more popular than delivery, and consumers seem to trust a restaurant's app more than a third-party offering.