The first year of the COVID-19 pandemic saw the temporary closures of restaurants nationwide, prompting a decline in Food Away From Home Spending. Spending decreased at each of the nine types of food-away-from-home outlets measured in the USDA Economic Research Service’s Food Expenditure Series from 2019 to 2020. Although existing infrastructure, such as drive-through services, enabled limited-service restaurants to comply with pandemic safety measures, these establishments still saw a 6.7% decline in annual spending.

Full-service restaurants, which accounted for more Food Away From Home spending than all other outlets from 1997 to 2019, experienced a decrease in spending of 31.7% in 2020. This was partly due to pandemic-related closures during some of the year. Hotels and motels, recreational places, and drinking establishments also experienced closures and capacity restrictions throughout much of 2020. Food spending fell 42.9% at hotels and motels, 37.7% at recreational places, and 40.7% at drinking places.

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