Summer's laid back vibes, vacations, and hot weather mean consumers want to enjoy the best food possible. And as diners spend time outside, or out and about with friends, food delivery and pickup continue to be important revenue drivers for restaurants. But how can you make the most of these lucrative summer months?
Here's what we expect consumers to crave on DoorDash during the summer, as well as tips for how restaurants can capitalize on this season's trends.
Methodology: We pulled DoorDash data from last summer, June 21, 2022 - September 20, 2022, to help restaurants understand historical summer food trends and what consumers often order for delivery and pickup during the summer months. In some cases, we compared summer trends to spring trends, looking at orders from March 20, 2022 - June 20, 2022.
Fastest-growing summer menu items
Below are the menu items that experienced the most growth in orders on DoorDash from spring to summer 2022.
Naan and biryani are the top two fastest-growing summer menu items on DoorDash, but restaurants should note that consumers crave these popular Indian dishes year-round — they appeared in the top ten for both fall and winter as well.
At #3 is the gyro, up from the seventh spot in the spring, followed by cheesesteak sandwiches. Consumers may have opted for these handheld meals as they spent more time outdoors in the warmer weather.
Cookies and pie took the #6 and #10 spots, respectively, as consumers look for sweet indulgences during the lazy days of summer. Restaurants could consider adding these treats to their summer delivery menu — though pie slices travel best with proper takeout packaging with separate containers for whipped cream to prevent a mess.
Chicken wings and pizza always go well together, and these items were #5 and #7 on the list, respectively.
Bagels took the #8 spot, highlighting the opportunity for restaurants to capitalize on offering breakfast delivery.
Finally, nothing tastes better during the summer than barbecue, which appeared at #9 on the list. Restaurants can consider offering a limited time offer (LTO) featuring a seasonal barbecue special to help generate more sales. Limited availability of an item creates urgency for consumers, who don't want to miss out on the experience.
Fastest-growing time of day for deliveries during summer
Long summer nights mean consumers are staying up later and satisfying their late-night cravings with delivery. 2–5 am experienced the highest growth in DoorDash orders from spring 2022 to summer 2022.
As the days get longer, late night delivery represents a major opportunity for restaurants. Restaurants can capitalize on this trend by experimenting with extending their evening hours or staffing up the late night shift. And since consumers crave chicken wings, pizza, and bagels in summer, consider adding these and other snacky items to your late night delivery menu to capture more orders.
Busiest summer holidays for food delivery
Comparing the two major summer holidays, Labor Day beat Independence Day in terms of DoorDash sales in 2022. To capture accurate holiday insights, we adjusted for stores open during this time period (i.e., stores that had at least $50 in sales on the given day).
In fact, Labor Day generated the second-highest number of sales of the entire summer, while July 4th had the fifth-highest sales. Perhaps consumers are choosing to supplement their home grilling with restaurant foods for their holiday celebrations.
The top menu items ordered on Labor Day in 2022 were:
Alcohol delivery trends in summer
Alcohol delivery became more popular during the pandemic, with diners ordering alcohol to-go from restaurants, liquor stores, or other retailers. In fact, according to our 2023 Alcohol Online Ordering Trends Report, one in ten consumers in the US has ordered alcohol delivery in the past six months. 60% of those surveyed report using on-demand alcohol delivery more than the previous year.
The top alcohol items ordered on DoorDash during summer 2022 are below:
Swirls (sparkling alcoholic beverage)
Sapporo (Japanese beer)
Margaritas were by far the most popular alcoholic drink in the summer, with consumers ordering all variations — house, frozen, strawberry and more. Restaurants looking to capitalize on this trend this summer can offer a margarita special on their delivery menu for Taco Tuesdays.
Other trendy beverages to experiment with include the El Diablo (made with tequila, crème de cassis, lime juice, and ginger beer) and the refreshing non-alcoholic Armando Palmero, a Mexican take on the Arnold Palmer made with agua de limon and agua de jamaica (hibiscus iced tea).
Operators in select states can add alcohol to their delivery menus, which can help increase ticket sizes and boost profit margins. Consider offering to-go cocktails, or simply a bottle of wine or six-pack of beer. Note that some states do not allow alcohol delivery, and others only allow off-premises alcohol licensees to deliver, so restaurants should check their local laws and follow DoorDash alcohol onboarding procedures before enabling to-go cocktails.
Boost summer restaurant sales with delivery
With these insights in mind, you’ll be well on your way to achieving your business goals this summer. Want more tips to increase food delivery sales throughout the year? Download the free 2023 Holiday Marketing Calendar and Toolkit to get a calendar of 270+ national, food, and social media holidays — as well as creative marketing campaigns to help restaurants to boost revenue year-round.