What’s cooking? Apparently, not Americans.
For the first time ever, people in the U.S. are spending more money dining out then buying groceries. In March, sales at restaurants and bars surpassed those at grocery stories for the first time since the Commerce Department started collecting data in 1992, reports Bloomberg.
The sales report details the changing eating habits of Americans over the past several years—with a renewed focus on how restaurants are thinking about how to appeal to the millennial generation. Instagram-happy younger diners are identified as more willing to spend money on “food away from home,” according to a Morgan Stanley report last fall.
This year, millennials are set to overtake baby boomers as the nation’s largest living generational cohort. The National Restaurant Association, with almost 500,000 industry members, is privy to the fact that this newer generation has a different attitude towards food than their parents.
"Millennials view dining out as a social event (i.e. a chance to connect)," the Restaurant Association advises members on their website. "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 millennials may favor dining is out, Boomers are content to prepare food at home.
A recent Gallup survey on boomer spending habits found that more Americans aged 51 to 69 said they were willing to spend more on groceries this year than those who said they are spending less than a year ago. And the share of baby boomers who indicated they spend more on dining out was smaller, by about 10 percentage points, than those who said they were spending less at restaurants and bars.
The report does not include food items purchased at stores like Target, Wal-Mart and even Costco, which are considered “general merchandise retailers." Americans may still be buying a lot of groceries, just not at traditional grocery stores.