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It’s December 2014, and the U.S Census Bureau has just reported that for the first time on record, monthly restaurant sales have exceeded monthly grocery store sales. Fast forward to April of 2015, and restaurant sales are continuing to exceed those of grocery stores.In fact, from July of 2014 to April of 2015, a $3.1 billion dollar shift in sales from grocery stores to restaurants occurred, which is almost as much as the last 4.5 years combined. The billion-dollar question many people are asking, is what, or who, is to blame (or thank) for the dramatic shift in sales? Here are a few specific factors as to why people are getting the check, and ditching the cart:

1.) Lower Gas Prices

Believe it or not, less pain at the pump has resulted in a willingness to spend that money elsewhere – particularly on dining out. In fact, almost half of people surveyed attribute their willingness to purchase meals, snacks, or beverages from restaurants, fast food places, and coffee shops to lower gas prices, according to the National Restaurant Association.

2.) Financial Security

As the economy continues to show signs of post-recession growth, people are feeling more comfortable opening their wallets and swiping their credit cards, especially when it comes to eating out. In fact, one-third of people say they are patronizing restaurants more often now than they were one year ago.

3.) Higher Wages

With unemployment rates falling and campaigns for a higher minimum wage plaguing major U.S cities, people are earning more money, and investing it in the restaurant industry. In fact, Americans ages 15 to 24 saw their household income rise 10.5 percent in 2013, the age group that also happens to spend the most money on dining out.

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First reported in an article by Bloomberg, there is one stipulation to consider when comparing the sales of restaurants and grocery stores; the data doesn’t include the sales of big-box stores like Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corporation, and Costco Wholesale Corporation.

Although these stores have been excluded from the study, the data serves as an example of the evolution that has occurred in American eating habits, and how the grocery industry is going to have to adjust to accommodate the change in lifestyle across different generations.

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