In “research” on the quarantine takeout we prefer, Yelp tells us who likes what and where. Their results were based on the dishes that were most frequently ordered in each state. Thinking it would come in handy, I identified each of the states:
As you might expect, pizza is most popular, but not the same kind. In Illinois, it’s thin crust and in Ohio, deep dish. Meanwhile, the people in Idaho, Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey all prefer cheese pizza. Next in popularity, we have the gyros that Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, and North Dakota like the most. Then, for Virginia, North Carolina, and Arizona, the takeout tends toward tacos. And, it’s bubble tea in California, Michigan, and Hawaii.
As for single state preferences, we have Crab Rangoon in Colorado, naan in Wyoming, and nachos in Alabama. Or, in Florida, you would most likely order garlic rolls and Indiana, poke bowls.
AXIOS tells us that our takeout orders are increasing. Comparing how many people got takeout during the first two weeks in April, they cite an increase from 19 to 22 percent. They also have numbers that show younger people get more deliveries:
I did discover that those of us who do not get delivery still enjoy takeout. According to WSJ, we use the drive thru and carry out:
Our Bottom Line: Fixed and Variable Cost
While the quarantine forced us to use takeout, the reopening will encourage businesses to continue offering it. The reason? It is less expensive than sit down dining.
As economists, we can say that a restaurant (like all businesses) has fixed and variable costs. The fixed costs exist no matter how many diners they serve. They include the rent, the insurance, the basic maintenance. The variable costs, though, depend on sales. When you sell or manufacture more, you need extra labor and inventory.
For restaurants, takeout has lower fixed and variable costs. With a socially distanced, sanitized reopening, fixed costs will skyrocket. Eating establishments will need to provide socially distanced meals, hands-free restrooms, no contact payments. At the same time, new variable costs could include sanitizers, thermometers, plexiglass barriers. The CFO of Denny’s told WSJ that a typical company restaurant needs approximately $1,500 in daily sales to top its food and labor variable costs. For sit down, that number rises to somewhere between $2,000 and $2,500.
Where are we? The takeout trend is bound to continue. And maybe Maryland, North Dakota, Kentucky, and Kansas will discover that they have more in common than they suspect.
My sources and more: I first read the story about quarantine takeout on RADIO.COM but then went to Yelp. Then, for its bottom line significance, WSJ had the analysis and AXIOS had delivery stats. (Please note thatYelp says in a May 21 blog that their state takeout facts begin on March 16. But they never tell us when they stopped collecting the data.)