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Business Lunches on the Decline

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
May 31, 2017

An article in the Wall Street Journal says that fewer people these days spend their lunch breaks at restaurants, both driving and reflecting changes in workplace cultures. Over the last year, people in the U.S. ate lunch 433 million fewer times than before, representing about $3.2 billion in losses for restaurants all over the country. The WSJ points to a few reasons for this decline. One is that people just don't have the time anymore: as schedules become busier and workplaces more demanding, it's less and less likely anyone can find space for a three-martini lunch. This, in turn, has created the perception that going out for lunch is an inefficient luxury. Second is that it's getting more expensive to eat out while, at the same time, it's getting cheaper to bring lunch. Fresh groceries are less expensive and budget-conscious consumers find it more practical to bring things in. The WSJ also points to the fact that more people are working from home, which negates much of the need to eat lunch out when your own kitchen is right there. All this has translated, however, into falling revenues for restaurants, which in turn has meant falling revenues for those who supply restaurants as well. Restaurants have been experimenting with a number of measures to bring the lunch rush back, such as more lunch specials or even delivery options, but it remains to be seen whether this lull in lunch is a temporary setback or the harbinger of a wider cultural trend. 

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