Restaurant sales are expected to reach $899 billion in 2020, according to The National Restaurant Association’s recently released “2020 State of the Restaurant Industry” report. By 2030, that number will jump to $1.2 trillion. Unsurprisingly, off-premises restaurant experiences will drive a lot of that momentum in the coming years. As The Association’s report plainly states, “the future is off-premises.” 

The off-premises category includes delivery, takeout, catering, curbside pickup, drive-thru, and food trucks. In the report, three in four operators say this category is “their best growth opportunity,” and the vast majority of those respondents said they expect to add more resources and technology to improve their operations around off-premises orders.

Consumer demand is clearly driving that optimism: 52 percent of adults said purchasing takeout or delivery is “essential” to their lifestyle. At the same time, certain restaurant types rely on off-premises orders for the bulk of their sales. For QSRs (73 percent), fast casuals (51 percent) and coffee and snack outlets (77 percent), off-premises is the main sales driver. In all likelihood these numbers will rise as AI technologies come to drive-thru lanes and most major QSRs offer delivery, ghost kitchens, or a combo of the two.

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