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Breakfast Beats

Jocelyn Bauer
May 12, 2020
Breakfast Beats

Breakfast was all the rage pre-COVID19 with several brands looking to get more involved. But, how has the pandemic impacted these pushes?

When looking at a few major quick-service restaurants with a focus on breakfast, comparing March and April 2019 to March and April of 2020 we see daily traffic patterns being impacted, but only in some cases. Traffic has decreased overall across the board, but looking at specific times throughout the day paints a different picture for different brands, and in some cases, emphasizes their true strengths. 

Coffee Fix 

Even amid a pandemic, people need their coffee fix. As a result, brands like Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks and Panera have shown continued relative strength through coronavirus. And this consistency has been apparent in their visit times as well. 

Looking at March and April 2019, Dunkin’ Donuts saw 9.5% of its customers visit from the hours of 10 to 11 am, and 27.6% of total daily visits coming between 10 am to noon.  When we shift to 2020, we see almost identical results. From March to April, the brand saw 9.2% of its visits between the hours of 10 to 11 am just a 0.3% decrease from the previous year. 

Coffee giant, Starbucks still sees most of its visits come in the afternoon hours, with 3 to 4 pm bringing in 9.2% of its visits for March and April of 2019. We see a little bump in 2020 when visits for the same time frame were 9.9% but like Dunkin' a very similar distribution of daily visits even during the crisis.  And that has applied to morning visits as well. In March and April of 2020, Starbucks saw 20.3% of daily visits between the hours of 8 to 11 am, compared to 2019 when the same hours garnered 19.0%. And visits for Panera Bread only decreased by 0.4% for the morning hours of 8 to 11 am, from 14.6% to 14.2% of overall visits.  

The slight decrease for both brands is a strong indication that shopping patterns for their visitors have been largely unaffected even if visits have decreased because of the pandemic.

Fast-Foods Ups and Downs  

However, the same was not true for Fast Food players with a big breakfast focus. Both McMcDonald’s and Burger King saw significant decreases during the breakfast rush hours, between 8am and 11am. In 2019, 15.0% of McDonald’s customer visits during that time frame. However, when we look at the same hours for 2020, we see visits drop to 12.5%, a significant 2.5% decrease. Burger King saw similar results when looking at year-over-year data for March and April.  Visits to the fast-food chain in 2019 during the same hours, amounted to 11.0% of the total visits, but when we compare that to 2020 we see a 1.6% decrease to 9.4%. With fewer people on the road during their usual morning commute, it’s clear that breakfast is being negatively impacted in some cases. 

However, we see a different narrative when we look at Wendy’s. Out of all of the fast-food chains analyzed, Wendy’s is the only brand that saw a significant increase during the morning rush. In 2019, visits between the hours of 8 and 11 being counted for 3.4% of the total visits during the measured period. But, when comparing this to March and April for 2020, we see overall visit distribution shift during those times to 5.7%, a 2.3% increase from the previous year.  It’s clear that Wendy’s new breakfast menu is driving traffic and intrigue, even during a time of uncertainty. This is a very strong sign for their revitalized breakfast menu and could position the brand for a post-COVID surge.

Will we see morning visits to these fast-food chains increase as work from home orders are lifted and more people are out on the road for their morning commute?  

Check back with the blog for all the latest updates.

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