Who Needs Groceries When You Can Eat Out?

For the first time, Americans spent more money at restaurants and bars than on groceries last month. Here’s who is driving the trend.

What’s for dinner? For many Americans, it’s whatever’s in the takeout box or on the restaurant menu.

For the first time, or at least since the Commerce Department started collecting data, Americans are spending more money dining out than on groceries. That’s according to the March sales for retail and food services.

The trend to spend more money at restaurants and less money at the grocery store is driven primarily by millennials.

According to the National Restaurant Association, it’s become increasingly important for restaurants to market to millennials.

“Millennials view dining out as a social event (i.e. a chance to connect),” the association website explains. “They prefer to eat at restaurants with a lot of choices and lower price points. They tend to favor fast food, deli food and pizza restaurants over coffee shops, high-end dining and casual dining. Their diversity and interest in new things draw them to more ethnic restaurants, too.”

While younger Americans are dining out, older Americans are more likely to spend their money on groceries. Still, Americans are spending a considerable amount of money grocery shopping. Bloomberg said:

The share of 51- to 69-year-olds who said they are spending more on groceries compared with a year earlier outstripped those who said they are spending less by 45 percentage points, according to a Gallup survey conducted Nov. 10-20. The share of those baby boomers spending more on dining out was smaller than those who said they were purchasing less at restaurants and bars, by 10 percentage points.

To put Americans’ grocery vs. restaurants spending numbers in perspective, consider this: grocery sales at retailers like Wal-Mart, Target and Costco are included with the general merchandise retailers instead of with grocery stores.

If you’re looking to cut your grocery bill, check out “25 Ways to Spend Less on Food.”

If dining out is more your thing, “15 Ways to Save on Eating Out” has some great tips.

Do you spend more money eating out or dining in? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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