When it comes to buying lunch, Northeasterners eat out less, but pay more when they do, according to a new survey by Visa, which surveyed lunch-buying habits and analyzed them by region and gender.
The credit card company found that Americans typically buy lunch out almost twice a week and spend about $10 each time. Specifically, average national spending was $18 per week, or $936 per year.
But spending patterns varied by region, and Midwest diners spend less on lunches out than people in any other part of the country, the results showed. They went out 1.7 times per week and spent only $8.90 each time, for a weekly average of $15.13.
Southerners led per-week spending, going out twice a week and spending $10 each time, or $20 a week. Westerners spend $10 per lunch 1.8 times a week for a total of $18.
Northeasterners lunched out the least, but spent the most when they did, dining out for their midday meal 1.5 times a week but dropping $11.40 each time, for a weekly total of $17.10.
In comparing men’s spending with women’s, Visa found that men not only go out more often but order more when they do. They spend an average of $21 a week on lunch, compared with $15 for women.
Some findings were more surprising: People in lower income brackets – making under $25,000 annually – reported spending an average of $11.70 per lunch, which was more than diners in any other income group. In contrast, people earning over $50,000 a year spent an average of just $9.60 per lunch – a 22 percent difference, Visa said.
“Simple choices can have a large impact on your wallet,” commented Nat Sillin, Visa’s head of U.S. Financial Education. “Don’t blow your budget on burgers and fries. … Clipping a coupon, choosing a less-expensive item or brown-bagging it can save you hundreds over the course of a year.”
That doesn’t mean that eating lunch at a restaurant is a bad idea, he said. “But it has to fit within your budget. Going into debt for a tuna sandwich isn’t worth it.”
Many Americans have figured that out. Visa said 30 percent of respondents claim they don’t buy lunch out at all.
Visa’s data was collected in both cellular and landline telephone interviews in late August with 1,005 respondents ages 18 and older, the company said.