Placer Bites: Turkey Wednesday 2019, Popeyes v. Chick-Fil-A and More

Late last month, we stumbled upon the retail craze that is Turkey Wednesday, the grocery sector’s answer to Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

But is a holiday really a thing if it doesn’t repeat? Of course not. So we dove back into the data to see if Turkey Wednesday truly is a thing.

Sneak Peak – Turkey Wednesday is Real!

Admittedly, we were concerned that one of the most exciting days in grocery retail was a mirage and perhaps 2019’s Turkey Wednesday would fall flat. But with 2019 data in, it’s clear that this new holiday is very, very real.

Taking the period from November 2018 through November 29th, 2019, Publix saw another huge jump with traffic rising 75.8% above the baseline for the period.

Safeway too saw another Turkey Wednesday spike with visits coming in 67.2% above the baseline for the period.

Wegmans remained the one brand that relegated Turkey Wednesday to a lesser position, even in 2019. Both December 23rd, 2018 and April 20th, 2019 –  the days before Christmas Eve and Easter respectively – brought in higher levels of traffic to Wegmans locations across the US.

Yet, in the end, all of the eight grocers that were analyzed saw major boosts in traffic on Turkey Wednesday 2019. For all but Wegmans, Turkey Wednesday marked the highest traffic day of 2019 and even surpassed December 2018. This consistent pattern emphasizes the critical role this day plays for grocers and the incredible opportunity it provides for them and their neighbors. 

Chicken: King of November Poultry

Yes, Thanksgiving is all about Turkey, but Chick-fil-A and Popeyes prove that chicken still has a prominent seat at the table in the fall. Popeyes, who relaunched the chicken sandwich to insane fanfare, saw a November that dramatically outperformed recent visit rates. Taking the period from November 2017 through November 2019 showed a November that enjoyed monthly visits 110.3% above the baseline.

And while sustaining the initial levels of excitement is nearly impossible to achieve, there are signs that the newfound affinity to Popeyes could have a long term impact. Visits did drop from the high point of 266.6% above the baseline on the day of the relaunch. However, the last day of November – the Friday after Thanksgiving – still saw visits that were 51.8% above the baseline for the period from November 2017 through November 2019. This is a huge indication of the potential for Popeyes to have truly leveraged the Chicken Wars hype to reach a new status in QSR.

One of the best examples of this may come from the originator of the summer’s chicken wars – Chick-fil-A. The brand continued an incredibly impressive 2019 with November visits that outperformed the same months in 2017 and 2018. In 2019, November visits were 2.2% above the baseline, a significant improvement over 2018’s 0.4% below and 2017’s 11.5% below.

Black Friday’s Indirect Beneficiaries

Yes, the day after Thanksgiving is about shopping and taking advantage of the retail extravaganza that is Black Friday. But there are other beneficiaries of this craze. Chief among them is Starbucks. 

The barista brand consistently sees significant peaks on Black Friday with the 2019 iterations visits rising 54.2% above the baseline for the period from November 2018 through November 29th, 2019. For comparison, Dunkin Donuts saw visits that were 7.0% above the baseline for the period. 

The ability to tap into a totally unrelated ‘event’ as an opportunity to drive visits and revenue is another sign of Starbucks’ seemingly unparalleled ability to own the calendar. Black Friday is certainly not centered around specialty coffee, but Starbucks continues to show a powerful and strategic ability to take advantage of the advantages the calendar gives them.

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