Thanks for Visiting!

Register for free to get the full story.

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

The Power of Coffee

by 
Ethan Chernofsky
 on 
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 Placer.ai 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 Placer.ai Free
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
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
Placer.ai’s Q4 2022 Quarterly Index
Placer.ai 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
Placer.ai 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
Announcing Placer.ai’s COVID RECOVERY DASHBOARD
This is Why Shop-in-Shops Are Everywhere
Super Saturday 2022 Recap
The San Francisco Shift
Grocery Year-End Update: Publix in the Spotlight
Three Ways Retailers Can Think Small to Increase Store Impact
Offline Beauty Is on an Upswing
The Evolving Migration Patterns of New York’s Florida Snowbirds
Placer.ai Office Index: November 2022 Recap
How Viral Social Media Trends Can Drive Offline Engagement
Are You Ready for Some Football? Experiential Marketing Shows Promise
Mall and Shopping Center Trends For 2023
Retail Corridors and Indoor Malls: A Holiday Head-to-Head
Placer Bytes: Nike, lululemon, and GameStop Update
Placer.ai Mall Indexes: November 2022 Update
Black Friday 2022: Consumers Hear the Call
Digitally Native Brands: Taking Off, Offline
Discount and Dollar Stores Leading the Pack
Turkey Wednesday 2022
Retail’s Evolving Holiday Season
Placer Bytes: Starbucks and Department Stores Ahead of Black Friday
Ulta: A Force to be Reckoned With
College Towns Drive Dining Growth
Foot Traffic Trends Reveal Consumers Ready for Holiday Cheer
How Retailers Can Win Big By Going Small
How Are Consumers Feeling Ahead of Black Friday 2022?
Off-Price, Hibbett, and Dick’s Pre-Holiday Check-in
Ho, Ho, Wholesale: Costco, Sam’s Club, and BJ’s
October 2022’s Retail Rebound
Target and Walmart Ahead of the Holidays
Home Improvement: Leave it to the Pros
Despite Inflation, Holiday Season is Off to a Good Start
Placer.ai Office Index: October 2022 Recap
Placer.ai Mall Indexes- October 2022 Update
Americans Double Down on Fitness
The State of Grocery
CVS and Walgreens: The Wave Continues
Coffee Chains Brewing Up Visits
Placer.ai Spotlight: Pizza Players
What Drove COVID-Era Urban Migration Trends?
Kroger and Albertsons: A Merging of Strengths
Texas Roadhouse Innovations Dishing Up Success
Holidays on the Horizon: Mid-Range and Luxury Shopping
McDonald's and Chipotle's Post-Pandemic Success
Announcing Placer.ai’s Q3 2022 Quarterly Index
5 Hot Restaurant Brands for 2023
Target Finds a Winning Deals Day Formula
Five Trends to Watch for 2022’s Holiday Shopping Season
September 2022 Analysis: A Difficult Month and Time for Optimism
Inflation’s Retail Winners
Five Apparel Retailers to Watch Ahead of the Holidays
Placer.ai Spotlight: Wawa’s QSR Pivot
Placer.ai Mall Indexes: September 2022 Recap
Placer.ai Office Indexes: September 2022 Recap
The Impact of Population Growth on Commercial Real Estate 
Starbucks' New Makeover
There's Somethin' About Pumpkin
Expanding Offline Reach
Breakfast Restaurants are Rising in Popularity
The Power of Labor Day 2022
Tourism in Miami Heating Up
Citi Trends on the Rise
Reaching Rural Consumers Through Retail Media Network
Darden Restaurants Cooking Up Success
The Home Improvement Sector: A Sign of Consumer Confidence
QSR Is Having a Northeastern Growth Spurt
Domestic Migration’s Ripple Effects
A Look Back at Back To School 2022
Kroger Digital Tell-All
The Return of In-Person Networking
The Reinvention of the American Mall  
Placer.ai Office Building Indexes: August 2022 Recap 
Placer.ai Mall Indexes - August 2022 Recap
Five Below’s Back to School Success
Plus-Size Fashion’s Staying Power
Placer Bytes: Best Buy & GameStop