Lunch out takes a big bite from family budgets

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 58 views 

Who doesn’t look forward to lunch outside the office on occasion? Consumers will spend an average of $10 per outing, and they do it again at least one more time in a calendar week, according to a recent study by Visa.

At $20 per week, consumers in the South spend about $1,000 per year at the lunch counter outside the office. Visa found that men outspent women on a weekly basis by 44%, with women spending roughly $15 per week and men doling out $21.

Those earning less than $25,000 spent more per meal, at $11.70, than those in any other income bracket. In contrast, those earning over $50,000 per year spend an average of $9.60 per meal; a difference of 22%.

Another 1% of the population spends $50 or more for lunch which totals some $5,000 a year. But 30% of those surveyed said they don’t eat out at lunch, opting to brown bag it with a sandwich from home.

Millennials age 18 to 34 eat lunch out more often than any other group, averaging 2.3 times per week. Gen X consumers between 35 and 49 eat out about 2.1 times per week, while boomers age 50 to 64 go 1.5 times a week. Seniors over 65 eat out once a week on average.

The study also found regional differences in spending with Southerners leading the pack.
• South: $20 per week
• West: $18 per week
• Northeast: $17.40 per week
• Midwest: $15.30 per week

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the average American household spent $2,678 eating out last year, which accounted for roughly 5.2% of their total spending. Food away from home expenditures were up just $58 or 2.2% from the prior year.

In contrast, during 2012, consumer spending for transportation rose 8.5%, while health care costs rose 7.3%.

Economists said higher payroll taxes this year will mean households earning $50,000 annually have $1,000 less money to spend, but they are still finding ways to enjoy themselves with food.

Restaurant expansion continues across much of the nation, despite a recent dip in restaurant owner sentiment. The Restaurant Performance Index edged downward in August to 100.5, off a little from the 100.7 reading in July.

Operators also reported positive same-store sales and customer traffic levels in August, despite some concerns for an economic slowing in the next few months.

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