In 2015, for the first time ever, Americans spent more money in restaurants than they did in grocery stories. Now, the food industry is preparing for yet another major shift: by 2020, an estimated half of restaurant spending will occur “off premises.” Deliveries, drive-throughs, and takeaway meals are poised to takeover sit down dining. Derek Thompson explores the rise of meal-delivery services for The Atlantic.
Quick-service chains like McDonalds and Sweet Green seem to be exploding, with a new location popping up on every corner—but nowhere in the food industry is experiencing growth quite like online delivery, Atlantic writer Derek Thompson reports. In fact, online delivery now accounts for a whopping 5-10 percent of restaurant business.
As a result, venture capitalist funds are flowing into meal delivery companies despite many of them, including DoorDash and UberEats, reporting negative earnings. “Is the meal-delivery boom actually a bubble, ready to pop?” wonders Thompson. While there have been plenty of ethical, ecological, and economic concerns raised about these companies, they continue to persist because of another trend: lack of time. Millennials not only spend more time working and commuting, but also more time streaming TV. The sit down restaurant experience has been replaced by a streamlined, hyper-efficienct meals.
“Meal-delivery companies are a symbol of what might be the most powerful force in business today: convenience maximalism,” Thompson writes. “The through line that connects the surge of e-commerce and online delivery (and practically every thriving digital business) is the triumph of consumer ease and logistical immediacy, in every arena of life.”
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