Summer's laid back vibes, vacations, and hot weather mean consumers want to cook less and eat out more. 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 consumers are craving 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 20 - September 21, 2021, to help restaurants understand summer food trends and what consumers are ordering for delivery and pickup during these summer months. In some cases, we compared summer trends to winter trends, looking at orders from December 21, 2020 - March 20, 2021.
Most popular menu items for summer
The following menu items experienced the biggest growth in orders from winter to summer in 2021:
Poke bowls took the number one spot, with orders growing by 79% in the summer season. This trendy Hawaiian dish is made up of diced raw fish (e.g. tuna or salmon) served over rice, topped with vegetables and sauce.
Want to add it to your restaurant menu? You can create a traditional poke bowl, or put your own spin on it — rebrand your existing poultry, beef, or vegetarian bowls as poke bowls with Hawaiian-style sauces to capitalize on this summer trend in a cost-effective way. Or, serve poke over quinoa, as a wrap, or with a drizzle of honey for a sweet and savory twist. If you haven't worked with raw fish before, be sure to talk to your suppliers about sushi-grade fish to make sure it's safe for consumption.
Sandwiches saw the next highest growth on DoorDash during the summer, increasing by 70% from winter orders. Make the most of this trend by creating a rotating sandwich menu to keep things fresh and entice customers to come back and try the latest offering. Incorporate summer vegetables and fruits such as zucchini, tomatoes, peaches, and others as they come into season. You could even launch a limited-time-offer to drive sales for specific sandwiches while supplies last.
Donuts — which increased by 55% from winter to summer — are a low-cost item that can help you increase your restaurant profit margin. In fact, the cost to make a donut is reportedly only twelve cents! Donuts don’t require special equipment, and can often be made in the same deep fryer you might use for french fries. Add these sweet treats to your menu any time of day to help create a profitable dessert menu.
Top cuisines in summer
The following cuisines generated the most orders during summer 2021:
DoorDash partners offering these cuisines should consider trying Sponsored Listings. This marketing tool ensures your restaurant will appear at the top of search results when diners search for your cuisine in DoorDash.
DoorDash's 2022 Restaurant Online Ordering Report — which was based on data from January-March 2022 — saw similar results, demonstrating that these cuisines are popular on DoorDash year-round.
Popular times for summer food delivery
The number of breakfast orders (between 6 a.m. - 10 a.m.) on DoorDash grew 3.5X between winter and summer. As more people order delivery for their first meal of the day, restaurants can prepare by extending their early hours or staffing up the morning shift.
Sandwiches, tacos, and pizza — from the most popular summer food items list — all also work well as breakfast items. Restaurants can create breakfast versions of each to whet customers' appetites first thing in the morning. Start by adding a classic bacon egg and cheese sandwich to your menu, or consider offering tacos with scrambled eggs, fresh avocado, and pico de gallo. You can even create a breakfast pizza with a white base, sausage, and topped with a sunny-side-up egg.
Always a popular time for food delivery, lunch orders (between 10 a.m. -2 p.m.) doubled between winter and summer last year on DoorDash. As more people go back to work at offices, restaurants can offer box lunches or catering through DoorDash to encourage group orders and increase ticket sizes.
And even mid-day meals (between 2 p.m. - 6 p.m.) grew by 1.5X on DoorDash in the summer. Generally a slow time of day for restaurants, operators can experiment with staying open or running ad campaigns during this timeframe to capture delivery sales for this growing audience.
Summer holiday insights
On holidays, consumers often turn to food delivery as a convenient, stress-free alternative to cooking at home. Here's how the summer holidays ranked based on DoorDash deliveries per open restaurant in 2021:
Restaurants can prepare for the delivery surge on these holidays by ensuring they have enough staff on hand. Operators may also want to launch a restaurant promotion to drive awareness ahead of the holiday and capture delivery sales.
Summer holidays often mean barbecue — but consumers who don't have a grill or don't want to cook can get their fix by ordering delivery. That's why burgers and cheeseburgers, sandwiches, and french fries are the top three items ordered on DoorDash on Labor Day and July 4th. Hot dogs, also often cooked up on a grill, also make the list for most ordered menu items in the summer.
Restaurants should make sure they have enough of these ingredients ahead of the summer holidays. And since fries are notoriously tough to maintain quality during delivery, you can also invest in the right food delivery containers to prevent them from becoming soggy and cold when they arrive at customers' homes.
Drive summertime 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 2022 Holiday Marketing Calendar and Toolkit to get a calendar of 270+ holidays and creative ways for restaurants to boost revenue year-round.
If you’re interested in partnering with DoorDash to offer delivery, pickup, and online ordering to your customers this summer, sign up today.