Has the Covid-19 pandemic affected our eating out habits?

Ever since March 2020, it’s been a whirlwind couple of years with our whole life changing because of Covid-19. Lockdowns and restrictions galore, it’s been difficult for many people and industries, especially the hospitality sector. Just how much has the pandemic affected eating-out habits? We’ve used search engine results to indicate how often and where people are eating out at restaurants in 2022 compared to 2019.

Restaurants near me.

Where better to start than with a common keyword searched on Google, ‘restaurants near me’? Anyone looking for a quick bite to eat, but not quite sure what they want, will search this term. In April 2019, the search volume for this term was 692,103. However, by April 2022 – two years after the pandemic began in the UK – searches for the term have increased by 177%, with a staggering search volume of 1,222,729.

Clearly, just from this one statistic, it’s evident that more people are looking to eat out at a restaurant and are searching for recommendations. When the pandemic hit the UK in April 2020, the search volume for ‘restaurants near me’ dropped to just 79,103, reflecting the impact that closures had on the hospitality industry at that time.

In the same vein, ‘places to eat near me’ had a healthy search volume of 271,866 in April 2019. That dropped to just 9,378 a year later, but by 2022 it had increased 18% to 321,491. Again, these numbers prove that more people are looking for places to eat out post-pandemic.

Specific types of restaurants.

Now that we can see general search terms for restaurants and eating out have increased since before the pandemic, it’s a good idea to look into more specific terms, such as types of restaurants and certain foods.

From the table below, you can see that the popularity of Italian restaurants has more than doubled (204%). Search terms started at 18,689 in 2019 and jumped to 38,137 in 2022. The same can be said of Indian restaurants (209%) and Spanish (234%) too, with huge increases for both.

Across the board, there are giant increases in search volume for people looking for specific types of food. Interest in Japanese restaurants has also jumped by 222%, with more than 25,000 searches alone in April 2022.

Business owners.

So, what do business owners think of the increase in demand since 2019? The owner of Palm – a cocktail bar and eatery in Chester – states that they’re undoubtedly taking on more orders than in previous years.

“We definitely are taking more bookings in advance than pre-pandemic,” they said. “I think people are planning more now and again and are keen to book places they feel their spend is appreciated.”

The owner also believes that, with the rising cost of living crisis in the UK, people are more money conscious. “People have more thought about how and where they are spending their money and making sure they are getting value for their spend,” they said. This, however, has not dampened their spirits, and they'll still look to eat out, as shown by the search volumes.


In summary, it’s clear that search volumes have increased for the hospitality sector since before the pandemic started.

With lockdowns, people missed the beauty of everyday life and the freedom to go and do whatever they wanted, including eating at restaurants. As the first lockdown was eased, the UK government urged people to go back out and spend money in the hospitality sector with the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme, which offered huge discounts for restaurants-goers.

Since the pandemic has eased off in 2022, it appears people are more willing than ever to eat out and have a clear idea of what type of food they want to eat.