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Out to Lunch: New Survey Reveals Lunchtime Spending

Friday Sep 27, 2013

A new survey by Visa shows that Americans go out to eat for lunch, an average of nearly twice a week and spend $10 per outing. That works out to an average of $18 per week or $936 per year. Men outspent women at the lunch counter and were also more likely to eat lunch out. They outspend women on a weekly basis by 44 percent. Of those that eat lunch out, women spend an average of just under $15 per week and men spend about $21.

Shockingly, one percent of people spend more than $50 per lunch or close to $5,000 a year. On the other end of the spectrum, 30 percent of respondents said that they didn't buy lunch out at all.

"Simple choices have a large impact on your wallet. Don't blow your budget on burgers and fries," says Nat Sillin Visa's head of U.S. Financial Education. "Clipping a coupon, choosing a less expensive item or brown bagging it can save you hundreds over the course of a year. Eating lunch at a restaurant isn't a bad thing, but it has to fit within your budget. Going into debt for a tuna sandwich isn't worth it."

Troublingly, respondents who said they make less than $25,000 per year spent more per meal, at $11.70, than those in any other income bracket. In contrast, those earning over $50,000 per year spent an average of $9.60 per meal; a difference of 22 percent..

Regional Disparities

Additionally, regional disparities exist between those who eat lunch out as well:

  • Southerners lead the regions of the country in spending per week. The average Southerner eats out twice per week, spending $10 each time for an average of $20 per week.

  • Westerners mirrored the national average spending $10 per lunch 1.8 times a week for an average of $18 per week on lunch.

  • Midwesterners went out for lunch 1.7 times a week and spent only $8.90 per meal. They averaged $15.13 per week

  • Northeasterners ate their lunches out the least often but splurged the most when they did. In the Northeast respondents only ate out 1.5 times a week but spent 14% more per meal than the national average at $11.40 for a weekly total of $17.10.


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