Thanks for Visiting!

Register for free to get the full story.

Sign Up
Already have a Placer.ai account? Log In

Darden Brands: Location Analytics and Consumer Behavior

by 
Ezra Carmel
 on 
March 19, 2024
Darden Brands: Location Analytics and Consumer Behavior

Despite the individual restaurant success stories in 2023, last year was also a period of economic headwinds in the dining industry. But Darden Restaurants – and its largest chains Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, and Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen – continued to drive foot traffic. We dove into the location analytics for these three Darden brands and took a closer look at the shifts in consumer behavior impacting the dining space.

A Great Start

Foot traffic in 2023 was largely positive for Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, and Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, with the strong visit trends likely helping drive Darden’s recent sales growth.

All three brands posted impressive YoY visit growth in Q1 2023, perhaps aided by the comparison to an Omicron-impacted, muted Q1 2022. LongHorn Steakhouse then pulled ahead of the pack in Q2 and Q3 with YoY foot traffic up 3.7% and 4.8%, respectively, before finishing the year off strong with a 3.8% YoY visit increase in Q4. But the real Darden star in Q4 was Olive Garden. The Italian-focused chain’s success was likely bolstered by the return of the Never Ending Pasta Bowl – offered from late September 2023 through mid-November – which appears to have attracted even more hungry diners than it did the previous year.

Meanwhile, YoY visits to Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen increased during the first three quarters of 2023 and held relatively steady in Q4 – YoY visits during the last quarter of the year were down just 0.7% – highlighting the overall strength of Darden’s portfolio. 

Best Served Hot

Though 2023 was a particularly successful year for Darden foot traffic, Olive Garden, LongHorn, and Cheddar’s were not immune to this year’s arctic blast. The extreme weather in January 2024 impacted dining visits and put a damper on traffic to these chains. But once the weather warmed up in February 2024, YoY visits to Olive Garden, LongHorn, and Cheddar’s began to heat up as well – outpacing even the strong early 2023 traffic – indicating that Darden brands are likely in for another year of robust visits. 

Darden Dines Early

Diving deeper into the analytics for Darden’s brands indicated that shifts in consumer behavior may be a factor in the restaurants’ recent foot traffic gains. Analysis of hourly visits to Olive Garden, LongHorn, and Cheddar’s since 2019 revealed that a greater share of visitors are now engaging with their favorite restaurants during non-traditional dayparts in the mid and late afternoon. 

The share of daily Olive Garden, LongHorn, and Cheddar’s visitors visiting between 2 PM and 5:59 PM was higher in 2023 than in 2019 for all three brands. Olive Garden had the largest share of mid and late afternoon visits in 2022 at 32.6% and maintained its share of 2:00 PM to 5:59 PM visitation in 2023. Meanwhile, LongHorn and Cheddar’s share of visits during the 2:00 PM to 5:59 PM daypart continued increasing in 2023 relative to the previous year, which suggests that this trend of late afternoon and early dinner visits is becoming the new normal. 

As eating out early is becoming more prevalent in the casual dining space – as well as in fine dining and steakhouse restaurants – Darden might capitalize on this trend by adding more happy hours and other late-afternoon specials to its restaurants’ menus.

Ready for the Next Course

Darden’s biggest chains succeeded in driving foot traffic growth in 2023 and early 2024. Location analytics indicated that while demand for the brands is consistent, consumer behavior is always changing. How will these restaurants navigate the rest of 2024? Visit Placer.ai to find out.

This blog includes data from Placer.ai Data Version 2.0, which implements improvements to our extrapolation capabilities, adds short visit monitoring, and enhances visit detection.

Get 3 brand & industry
breakdowns every week

Subscribe to the newsletter

Great! Prepare your inbox for data-driven insights...
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Get a Demo

Please enter your first name
Please enter your last name
Please provide a valid email
Please enter your email
Please enter company name

Thanks for reaching out!

One of our experts will be in touch soon

Try Placer.ai Free
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Text Link
Olive Garden
Text Link
Darden
Text Link
Longhorn Steakhouse
The Promise of Luxury Apparel
Catching Up With Ulta Beauty & Gap Brands
Ollie’s Bargain Outlet and Five Below: Q1 2024 Treasure Troves
CAVA Still Going Strong
Driving Success: Auto Parts Chains in 2024
Checking in With DICK’S Sporting Goods
Mother’s Day Shopping and Dining Trends
Placer.ai Mall Index: April 2024 Recap – Retail Resilience Heading into Spring
Dollar Stores Still Gaining Momentum
Off-Price Apparel Chains After Q1 2024: Demographics in the Balance
Walmart, Target, and Wholesale Clubs Continue to Thrive
Home Improvement and Decor Check In
Placer.ai Office Index: April 2024 Recap – Recovery Continues
Movie Theaters in Q1 2024: A Preview of Coming Attractions?
Let’s Get Physical: Fitness In 2024
Where Are Workers Returning to Office in 2024?
2024 Wins: Sweetgreen & First Watch on the Rise
A Full-Service Turnaround: Bloomin’, Dine, and Texas Roadhouse
Wendy’s and Denny’s: Breakfast and Late Night Dining Drives Success
Coffee Chains: Q1 2024 Update and What’s Changed Since COVID
Checking in with RBI and YUM!
Chipotle & McDonald's Serving Up Success
Wingstop & Shake Shack Continue Growing Their Reach 
Strong Start for Sprouts in 2024
Crocs’ Footwear Fairytale
Who Attends NCAA Final Four Events?
Eclipse Fever: How Did the (Retail and Hospitality) Stars Align?
Exploring Albertsons Companies’ Grocery Growth
Placer.ai Mall Index: March 2024 Recap – Malls Rise Again
Placer.ai Office Index: March 2024 Recap
Florida Spring Break Break-Up? Travelers Still Love Florida!
Provo-Orem and Ogden-Clearfield Emerging As Utah Hotspots 
Three Formulas for Experiential Retail in 2024
Aldi & Lidl Making The Cut
Texas Suburbs on the Rise
Exploring Luxury Hotel Brands’ Guest Segmentation
The St. Patrick’s Day Effect
How Can JOANN Make a Comeback?
Panera Bread Well Positioned for Possible IPO
Who Will Benefit From Family Dollar’s Downsizing?
Dave & Buster’s and Main Event Entertainment: Food and Fun for Everyone
Darden Brands: Location Analytics and Consumer Behavior
Nike and lululemon: a Strong 2023, Sprinting into 2024
Where Is Retail and Dining Foot Traffic Thriving in Early 2024?
Placer.ai White Paper Recap – February 2024
Three Retail & Dining Chains That May Surprise in 2024
Specialty Discount Chains Rock Retail Therapy
Placer.ai Mall Index: February 2024
Placer.ai Office Index: February 2024 Recap
Ulta Beauty Continues To Shine
First Watch Sails Into 2024
Hibbett Sports and DICK’S Sporting Goods: A Psychographic Analysis
Checking in With Discount & Dollar Stores
Peeking Behind The Curtain: Movie Theaters in 2023 and Beyond
Diving Into Brick-and-Mortar Eyewear
Getting Into Gear: Exploring The Auto Part Industry
Recapping Valentine’s Day 2024 Foot Traffic Trends
Fitness: A Strong Start to 2024
Dutch Bros. Continues To Percolate Visits
Super Bowl 2024: Placer.ai’s Postgame Foot Traffic Analysis
CAVA & sweetgreen Are On the Rise
Hats Off For Off-Price
Who Is Shopping at Malls?
Drilling Down Into Home Improvement
Walmart, Target, Costco & Superstore Space 2023 Recap
Catching Up With Shake Shack and Wingstop
Something To Chew On: Demographic Shifts at Steakhouse Chains
Placer.ai Office Index: Looking Back at 2023
Recapping RBI & Yum! Brands’ 2023 Foot Traffic Performance
Placer.ai White Paper Recap – January 2024
Who Shops at Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters?
Three Taco Chains to Watch in 2024
Starbucks and Dunkin’: 2023 in Four Data Points
Who Visits CVS and Walgreens?
Fashionably Frugal: Apparel in 2023
Catching Up With Fast Food
The Grocery Sector in 2023: An End-of-Year Recap
3 Mall & Shopping Center Trends for 2024
Bakery Chains Rising To The Top
Placer.ai and Esri Partner to Deliver Geospatial Analytics
Tampa Tourism Trends
Going For The Green: The Changing Dynamics Of Country Clubs
Christmas Day Dining Recap
Major Urban Shopping Districts – Holiday Season Recap
Placer.ai Office Index: December 2023 Recap
Recapping the 2023 Holiday Shopping Season
Placer.ai White Paper Recap – December 2023
7 Retail & Dining Segments to Watch in 2024
Diving Into Holiday Season Favorites
Super Saturday and Christmas Eve Eve: A Winning Combination
3 Budget Grocery Chains Finishing 2023 On a High Note
Making It In America: International Chicken Chains Bring The Heat
Domestic Tourism at a Glance: A Q3 2023 Roundup
Five Pizza Chains On The Rise
Jewelry Brands Taking Advantage of the DTC Opportunity
Secondhand News: Kids' Thrift Shops
Recapping 2023’s Dining M&As
MetLife Stadium Kicks Off Football Season
Placer.ai Office Index: November 2023 Recap
Small Coffee Chains Brewing Big Success