Restaurant carry-out is losing out to delivery and drive-thru as more convenient ordering options. Carry-out orders were lagging drive-thru and delivery orders even before the pandemic, and this trend accelerated during the pandemic according to The NPD Group.

From February 2020 through February 2022, digital and non-digital carry-out restaurant orders declined by 2 percent, while delivery increased by 116 percent and drive-thru grew by 20 percent. Digital ordering, which grew by 117 percent in the two years, contributed to the delivery and drive-thru growth.

Although digital carry-out orders doubled through the pandemic, there was a double-digit decline in non-digital pickup orders that account for a majority of pickup orders. In the year ending February 2022, 76 percent of carry-out were non-digital orders, and these orders declined by 16 percent compared to the prior year.

“Several factors have encouraged consumers to move away from ordering carry out. The convenience of drive-thrus, delivery, and mobile ordering, in addition to dining room closures, have influenced consumers’ willingness to get out of their car, walk into a restaurant, and order to go,” says David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor and author of Eating Patterns in America. “Convenience rules and the more convenient options will win.”