81% of Americans Eat Out At Least Once a Month [Survey]

Last updated: March 2, 2020 | By Ivy Sieff

Reading time: 3 minutes

Valpak invited 14,700 consumers to participate in a survey on casual dining/sit-down restaurants. Of the survey respondents, 57% receive Valpak in their mailboxes (43% don’t).

For the purposes of this survey, a “casual dining/sit-down restaurant” is defined as a restaurant that provides table service and often has a full bar with separate bar waitstaff. The results of the survey1 demonstrate the importance of advertising your restaurant via the right marketing channels, with the right offers and the right advertising agency.

How Often Do People Eat Out?

81% eat at a casual dining/sit-down restaurant at least once a month. That breaks down to:

  • 28% once a week or more
  • 25% once every two weeks
  • 28% once a month

When Do People Eat Out Most?

No surprise here: lunch/dinner and weekends are the most popular times to eat out.

When asked which meal they were more likely to eat at a casual dining/sit-down restaurant:

  1. Dinner: 66.1%
  2. Lunch: 24.2%
  3. Breakfast: 5.4%
  4. Late Night: .4%

When asked which days of the week they were more likely to eat at a casual dining/sit-down restaurant:

  1. Saturday: 59%
  2. Friday: 53%
  3. Sunday: 41%
  4. Thursday: 34%
  5. Wednesday: 32%
  6. Tuesday: 28%
  7. Monday: 23%

Do Consumers Prefer Local or Chain Restaurants?

It really depends! While more than half (54%) of those surveyed said the type of casual dining/sit-down restaurant they frequent depends on the occasion:

  • 27% prefer local restaurants
  • 19% prefer chain restaurants

Food Delivery Services – Consumer Response

All that buzz about food delivery services – Uber Eats, Grubhub, DoorDash, etc. – is more like a soft hum for casual/sit-down restaurant patrons:

  • 81% have never used a restaurant delivery service
    • 26% would try one if they had a coupon
    • 31% weren’t interested, period
    • 43% weren’t sure how they felt
  • 19% have used a restaurant delivery service

Most-Popular Restaurant Coupons

52% of casual dining/sit-down restaurant panelists would be motivated to dine at a restaurant after receiving an offer in the mail. So, which restaurant coupons are the most popular?

  1. Free Dinner Entree / Buy 1, Get 1 Free (BOGO)
  2. 2 For $20 Meal Deal / 1 Appetizer + 2 Entrees
  3. Free Entree (Dinner or Lunch) / Buy 1, Get 1 Free (BOGO) (Mon-Thu Only)
  4. Free Lunch Entree / Buy 1, Get 1 Free (BOGO)
  5. $10 Off Dinner for Two

Dining Loyalty Programs

Consumers join loyalty programs if they’re easy to use, easy to understand and provide “great discounts.” When asked about their loyalty program habits:

  • 56% are members of dining loyalty programs
    • 65% belong to 3 or more dining loyalty programs

Implementing a loyalty program is easy and cost-effective if you give consumers actionable offers. Partnering with a marketing and advertising firm can help determine which offers will work for your business.

Restaurant Gift Cards

Gift cards and certificates – just like loyalty programs – are an easy way to provide value to diners. 92% of panelists have used restaurant gifts cards.

More importantly, if given a gift card to a restaurant they don’t typically go to, 54% would use it and decide whether to return based on the experience – without any discount or offer.

Keep the Customers Coming

So, if you’re looking to increase the number of patrons walking through your door – and keep them coming back – coupons, loyalty programs and gift cards will all help.

If you own a casual dining/sit-down restaurant, advertising with Valpak ensures the most eyes on your business and offers. 92% of Valpak’s audience opens their Blue Envelopes of local restaurant and business ads and 81% look at every coupon.2 Those numbers are impossible to ignore. Bundling Valpak’s digital services with our proven direct mail system will give you a larger audience, more customers and a bigger bottom line. Contact Valpak today to get started.


1. Opinion Connection™ powered by Valpak®, “Casual Dining/Sit-Down Restaurants.” January 2019.
2. Among households that receive Valpak. 2019 Valpak® Readership Study, December 2019.