Neeraj Sharma Comments: Renters’ Prized Amenity? Delivery

January 3, 2014, Wall Street Journal

Apartment dwellers may be stretched thin in New York and other expensive markets, but they still find money to order food

At least once per day—sometimes twice— Scott Fitzgerald orders in for his meals. Mr. Fitzgerald, a liquor specialist for a rum company, pays $2,750 per month for a two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan but is happy to dish out a few more dollars for curry dishes rather than cook in his cramped kitchenette.

It turns out, cities with the highest rental prices are also responsible for generating some of the most delivery orders in the U.S., according to a joint analysis by listings website Rent.com and ordering website Delivery.com.

Four of the five most expensive metro areas, as ranked by Rent.com, also generate the most delivery orders: New York City; Jersey City and Newark, N.J.; the San Francisco Bay Area; and Los Angeles. (Delivery.com provided the delivery ranking but declined to share its total number of deliveries by market.) The analysis, conducted by market-research company Redshift Research, surveyed 1,000 U.S. renters.

There were 1.6 billion delivery orders placed in the U.S. from October 2012 to October 2013, up 3% from the same period a year prior, according to research firm NPD Group.

These markets also lead the way in average rents: New York City averages $5,493 per month for a two-bedroom apartment, the highest in the U.S. The San Francisco Bay Area comes next with an average monthly rent of $3,184, followed by Los Angeles at $2,432. The Jersey City and Newark areas averaged $2,308. Another expensive rental market, Stamford, Conn., also appears among the top markets for delivery orders. Nationwide, the average rent is $1,506 per month.

"You tend to have urban professionals working in these cities. They’re super busy; they’re trying to make their lives easier; and they are used to ordering online," says Neeraj Sharma, vice president of marketing for Delivery.com.

Pizza is the most popular menu item across the board, but each city has its preferences.

"In San Francisco, there’s a strong pan-Asian influence. You have a lot of Chinese, Thai, Japanese and Indian options," Mr. Sharma says. "Some other cities, like New York, have more standard offerings like diners and delis."

The reasons renters are drawn to delivery are many: it’s easy, fast and convenient. "For rentals, I find that people are cooking less, and the kitchens aren’t as important" as they are to full-time homeowners, says Michael Minarik, a real-estate agent with Town Residential in New York.

To some, easy access to delivery is nonnegotiable. About five months ago, Mr. Minarik thought he found the perfect apartment for a client, but it was out of the delivery zone of his client’s favorite Indian restaurant.

"He said, ‘I want the same apartment, two blocks south.’ So we found him one," Mr. Minarik says.