LOS ANGELES & PORTLAND, Maine–(BUSINESS WIRE)–To mark national Hamburger Month (celebrated each May) Emburse, a global leader in spend management solutions, analyzed transaction data from almost three million meal purchases to discover which food and restaurant brands corporate America’s employees visit the most. The results can be found in the latest SpendSmart report.
“The huge increase in both volume and order size with food delivery services is indicative of a few shifts we’re seeing in the workplace, and the need for companies to be more employee-centric in their approach”
Delivery services take growing share of expense transactions
While traditional restaurant brands such as Starbucks and McDonald’s still lead in meal expense volumes, food delivery services saw immense growth during the pandemic. Emburse aggregated expense report data comparing 2019 and 2021 shows Doordash deliveries to homes, offices and hotels increased nearly 300%. Among other delivery brands, Seamless increased 196%, Uber Eats rose 55% and Grubhub 47%.
The trend has continued into 2022. The number of transactions for meal deliveries from Uber Eats increased another 88%, Grubhub 64% and Doordash 64% in Q1 2022. The average size also increased suggesting a growing reliance on delivery services for team events as workers meet in-person again: Order sizes from Seamless nearly tripled to about $162 from 2019 to 2022, while meals from Doordash averaged approximately $66, up from about $46; Uber Eats $53, up from about $28; and Grubhub $108 up from about $66.
Employees visited traditional restaurants less often
Employees expensed fewer meals at traditional fast-food restaurants during the pandemic. Starbucks saw a 29% reduction in the number of expense transactions from 2019 to 2021, Pizza Hut saw a 27% drop and Dunkin a 23% drop. Burger King dropped 18% and McDonald’s 9%. Only Taco Bell, Chick-fil-A, Domino’s and Popeyes saw an increase in the number of expensed meals.
Nevertheless, despite the drop during the pandemic, Starbucks still emerged as the most expensed food brand overall in the period: the coffee chain accounted for nearly 17% of all meal transactions. McDonald’s followed with about 9% of purchases.
Most expensed restaurants by category
McDonald’s was also the most expensed fast food burger chain, with 67% of all employee expense transactions in the burger category going to the Golden Arches. In coffee, Starbucks reigned supreme with 76% of all purchases over the period compared to Dunkin, which had 24%.
In other fast food categories, the winners were:
- Pizza: Domino’s with 55% of purchases in the category vs. Pizza Hut at 45%
- Chicken: Chick-fil-A, with 81% vs. KFC at 11% and Popeye’s 8%
- Mexican: Chipotle, with 64% vs. Taco Bell at 36%
“The huge increase in both volume and order size with food delivery services is indicative of a few shifts we’re seeing in the workplace, and the need for companies to be more employee-centric in their approach,” said Eric Friedrichsen, CEO of Emburse. “As more teams are returning to the office for meetings and collaboration, a free lunch is a great motivator. Most employers know there’s still some hesitation among workers to return to the office, so a manager ordering a team lunch delivery is becoming more common to encourage employees to join in person.
“We’re also seeing some interesting changes in employee behaviors when it comes to the type of meals they are expensing, which suggests that unhealthy food is becoming less popular for business travelers. The restaurant sector overall saw a significant drop in business expense transactions from 2019 to 2020, but recovered all of that by the end of 2021. The fast food sector saw a similar initial decline, but was still down by 17 percent on pre-pandemic levels at the end of 2021. Average spend also saw a significant gap. In the sector as whole, the per-transaction amount has remained quite consistent throughout, with just a three percent overall decline from 2019 to 2021. Among the biggest fast food chains, the decline is more than a third, which is a huge gap.”