Thanks for Visiting!

Register for free to get the full story.

Sign Up
Already have a account? Log In

The Power of Coffee

Ethan Chernofsky
March 25, 2021
The Power of Coffee

When looking at the pandemic’s impact on restaurant performance, there was a clear distinction between sit-down restaurants and QSR players. The latter group saw a significant boost from existing strength in takeaway, drive thru and delivery. While the former saw the loss of its primary channel create a significant hit, even though many players admirably moved quickly to create or strengthen takeaway and delivery processes.

Yet, there is a group that sits between the two categories that may see its dual strength drive a uniquely powerful future. Coffee and breakfast-oriented brands possess a combination of strengths that could come to drive even more significant returns considering the current environment. 

Coffee Power - The Short Term Recovery

While this will come as an obvious to any coffee enthusiast, for many, kicking a day off without that caffeinated start is a nightmarish scenario. And this dependency generally drives significant traffic for brands like Starbucks and Dunkin’ as they cater to providing this needed fix. But the role these brands play was impacted by the pandemic, the lack of commuting, and the overall disruption to normal routines.  

But as the retail effect of the pandemic begins to dissipate, the positive impact on visits to these barista brands is clear and obvious. Intense inclement weather in several key regions had a demonstrable impact on visits across the retail and restaurant landscape in late January and the first few weeks of February. But since the week beginning February 22nd, visits are moving strongly in the right direction. Starbucks and Dunkin’ saw visits down just 21.3% and 15.4% year over year respectively the week beginning March 1st, the best performance for either brand since the week beginning December 28th. Panera also saw its strongest visit gap that same week, with the year over year visit gap down to 24.6% - the lowest it’s been since the pandemic began in March 2020.

And it isn’t just that the visit gap is shrinking, but that overall visits are rising. Since the week beginning February 8th, Starbucks and Panera have seen consistent week-over-week growth, with Dunkin’ seeing one week with a minor decline amidst strength during that same period. And the reasons seem to be clear. More people are returning to ‘normal’ work and school routines, COVID concerns seem to be declining and restaurants are beginning to reopen at much faster rates across the country. The combined effect is driving significant strength to the recoveries of these brands.

The return to ‘normalcy’ is especially important for coffee. Whether it be a stop-in at a Dunkin’ on the way to work or a midday meeting at a Starbucks, coffee brands tend to be heavily centered around normal work routines. And these routines do appear to be coming back. Visits to Starbucks locations between 6 and 9 am, were 8.8% of overall Starbucks visits the week of March 1st, when they had been just 7.6% of visits the three months prior. While this trails 2020, when visits during that time amounted to 10.4% of overall visits, it is still a very positive step in the right direction.

Coffee Power - The Long Term Opportunity

Looking beyond the current environment, there is a longer-term trend that could drive significant value to these brands. As flexible work becomes a more commonplace practice, the escape from home to local places to work - even for just a few hours - could provide a valuable asset. Longer stays at the coffee shop midday should drive larger transaction sizes, and increase output throughout the day.

This potential result is a more complex picture of how Starbucks and brands like it could evolve in the coming years. While announced small-format locations and an emphasis on convenience should drive a boost in some areas and cities, the sitdown component may become a major strength in others, especially suburban centers. More people are moving to the suburbs from major cities, and this shift could drive a strong wave of visits to Starbucks locations - with a unique emphasis on those with strong sitdown environments.

Will the coffee recovery continue? Can leading brands find the ideal balance between convenience and sit down? Visit to find out.

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 Free
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
How Will Primark’s US Expansion Impact Target?
All Eyes on Eyewear
Northwestern U.S. Grocery Dive
Return of the Lunch: Salad Chains Are Thriving
Retail Media Networks – Off the Beaten Track
Bet Your Bottom Dollar: Discount and Dollar Stores Drive Foot Traffic
Ulta & Lululemon: Discretionary Spending On The Up
The Score After Q1: Sporting Goods Chains
Who Uses NYC Airports: Biting Into The Big Apple’s Main Transport Hubs
Off Price: Strength in The Face of Retail Challenges
Visits Improve for Home Improvement
Walmart, Target & Wholesalers in Q1 2023 – The Return of Mission-Driven Shopping?
Department Store Roundup: Q1 2023 Office Index: April 2023 Recap Mall Index, April 2023 – A Rebound on the Horizon?
How Will Bed Bath & Beyond’s Bankruptcy Impact the Retail Space?
Buffet Restaurants: Filling Up on Foot Traffic
Thrift Stores: Vintage Visits Drive New Age in Apparel
The Windy City: A Hub of Post-Pandemic Opportunity
Diving into Dining Traffic - Q1 2023
Bring On The Joe
A Dollar (or more) For Your Thoughts: Five Below and pOpshelf
Dining Out With The Cheesecake Factory
Retail Foot Traffic Recap – March 2023
Digging Into 2023: McDonald’s and Chipotle Update Office Index: March 2023 Recap
How Did Key Retail Categories Perform in Q1 2023?
Northeastern USA Grocery Dive
Movie Theaters Storylines for 2023
Ollie's Bargain Outlet: Discounters are Evolving
Leveraging Brick-and-Mortar Retail in 2023
America’s Evolving Work Patterns: A Deep-Dive into New York and Chicago Mall Index March 2023
Tuning Into Record Stores
Five Franchises To Watch in 2023
What’s Next For Domestic Tourism?
It’s Showtime! Movie Theaters in the Spotlight
5 Limited Time Offers (LTOs) Driving Restaurant Traffic
Department Store Deep-Dive: Belk
Regional Grocery Chains Staying Ahead of the Competition
Five Chains that Rightsized for Success
Unlocking the Potential of Offline Retail Media Networks
Dining Out With Darden
What’s in Store for Self-Storage?
Nike & lululemon Update: Strong Performance Amid Expansion Plans
Many Ways to Win: Midwest Grocery Deep Dive
Retail, Reinvented: The Rise of the Pop-Up Shop
Navigating a New Normal in Business Travel & Commutes Office Index: February 2023 Recap
Retail Categories Staying Strong in Volatile Environment
Ulta Beauty: Poised for Success into 2023 Mall Index February 2023: Reasons for Continued Optimism
Catching Up With DICK’s & Hibbett
The Miami-Dade Arena: An Advertising Slam Dunk
Car Washes Revving Up Visits
Tuesday Morning and Sunrises in Home Furnishing
Dining & Valentine’s Day Recap
2023: The Year of the Discount Store
Aldi’s Success Highlights Growing Demand for Value Groceries
5 Retail & Service Categories Holding onto Pandemic Gains in 2023
Visitor Insights from Super Bowl 2023
2023 First Look: Home Improvement Update
How Are Target, Walmart, and Wholesale Clubs Faring in 2023?
Department Store Deep-Dive: Nordstrom
Off-Price: Taking Off in Uncertain Times
Checking in On Middle-Class Hubs
Who Attends the Super Bowl? Office Index: January 2023 Recap
Focusing On Fitness: Q4 and January Recap Mall Index: January 2023 – Returning Mall Normalcy?
Location Intelligence Insights Into Concert Attendance
Winning Dining Strategies for 2023
In-N-Out Burger: What to Expect as the Brand Moves East
Location Intelligence Breakdown: Coffee Caps-Off 2022
Digitally Native Brands Lean Into Brick & Mortar
Washington, D.C. Population Changes & Migration Trends
A Location Intelligence Perspective on Macy’s Rightsizing
Amazon-Powered Shopping: The Future of Brick-and-Mortar Grocery?
Cold Weather, Hot Visits: Diving into Winter Resorts
Wawa and 7-Eleven: Leaning Into the “Slurpee Effect”
2022 and Beyond: Catching Up With McDonald’s & Chipotle
Let’s Have Some Fun! Going Out Is In’s Q4 2022 Quarterly Index Adds Industry Executives to Leadership Team To Drive Company's Next Phase of Growth
5 Emerging Retail Formats: 2023’s Brick-and-Mortar Evolution
Grocery Update: Zooming in on the Lone Star State
2022 Office Recap: The Year of the TGIF Work Week
What Lies Ahead for Brick-and-Mortar Luxury in 2023 Mall Indexes: December 2022 Recap
Looking Back on 2022’s Holiday Shopping Season
Post-Pandemic Migration Trends in New York
Top Retailers for 2023
The Live Sports Advertising Opportunity
Domestic Migration to the Mountain States: Small Shifts with Big Implications
New Year, New Food: 5 Dining Trends For 2023
This is Why Shop-in-Shops Are Everywhere
Super Saturday 2022 Recap
The San Francisco Shift
Grocery Year-End Update: Publix in the Spotlight