Grocery Stores vs. Restaurants: Which Reigns on Which Days?

Photo credit: qmnonic

Envision this scenario: it’s Monday night, and you’ve returned home from work later than usual. You had a light lunch, so you are starved. The fridge is empty. The eternal question arises — what do you eat? You could duck into the grocery store for a few ingredients and whip something up at home, but the Mexican place around the corner is calling your name.

To buy groceries, or to eat out? That is the question. We at Bundle wondered which days of the week are the most popular for grocery stores, and which for restaurants. Do restaurants dominate on weekends, or do grocery stores appear to win out? What are the broader implications of these answers?

We gathered data from our site and discovered which days are the most popular for grocery store shoppers and restaurant diners, and compared them side by side. 

By The Numbers: Grocery Stores

According to the Time Use Institute, about one in seven adults are grocery shopping on a given day in the United States. For you number junkies, that’s 32 million people. Most of these individuals are older than the nationwide average of 44, and they’re more likely to be female

People are more likely to shop in the late afternoon during the week, but shoppers are more likely to get an earlier start on the weekend.

According to the TUI, Saturday is far and away the busiest shopping day of the week, with an average of 41 million shoppers. Friday and Sunday are next in line, but their numbers pale in comparison to Saturday’s. In contrast with the weekly average, most weekend grocery shoppers are men.

Bundle’s data presents some conflicting implications. Much of the grocery store data on the site shows that Thursday is the most popular shopping day, at least for New York City, but the data differs from city to city. For example, Brooklyn’s Waldbaum’s Grocery experiences the most business on Friday, while Boston’s Star Market is busiest on Sundays.

Gord Crowson of told CBS News that Wednesday is a good day to buy groceries because it’s when stores often start their weekly sales. This may help explain the upward spike in general grocery store purchases towards the latter half of the week.

By The Numbers: Restaurants

About one in every five meals consumed by Americans is commercially-prepared. That’s an average figure — many eat more than that, some less.

According to a study by the National Restaurant Association, age is one of the most influential factors in determining who dines out the most. The study says that American men between 18 and 34 eat commercially-prepared meals more frequently than anyone else, averaging about six times per week. On the other end of the spectrum, women over 65 eat out around three times a week. Young men eat out nearly twice the amount as female senior citizens — that's a pretty stark contrast. 

It’s been rumored that Monday is not an ideal day to dine out because it’s a “clean-out-the-fridge” day — that is, the restaurant does its best to use up what it didn’t sell over the weekend. This would make more sense if Monday proved to be a bigger grocery shopping day, but that’s not always the case. 

The Final Word

The concrete numbers deal with consumer demographics and the frequency with which they spend money at either grocery stores or restaurants, but we can nevertheless draw some interesting conclusions. It makes sense that the weekend would be the busiest for both grocery shopping and dining out, so we can safely conclude that the weekend is busier for both venues. Sometimes, simple logic really does validate the truth in spending patterns.