Where Did All the Breakfast Traffic Go?

Breakfast traffic is slowing. Revenue Management Solutions said breakfast traffic in the QSR segment dropped 7.4% in a year-over-year comparison from November 2021 to November 2022. Yet dinner traffic for the same month dropped less than 1% from the previous November, and lunch was down 3.9% from 2021’s figures.

Morning commuter traffic is up, but breakfast purchases are down. What’s causing this loss of appetite? Indeed, one cannot overlook inflation as a leading cause. Prices are 8% higher than they were in November of 2021. But other considerations could point to the slowdown in the QSR breakfast space. Breakfast promotions were scarce amongst the QSRs in November 2022, unlike many promotional activities the previous year when all the major QSRs offered breakfast deals.

Barbara Castiglia of Modern Restaurant Management and host of The Main Course podcast believes it’s not one factor causing the slowdown but several converging forces.

Barbara’s Thoughts

“Hi, this is Barbara Castiglia of Modern Restaurant Management. Are people breaking up with breakfast? Not with breakfast, but with breakfast on the run. It’s possible we’re seeing a dip now in the QSR breakfast traffic for a number of different factors, all of those being connected to paychecks and what people are making.

When you think about it, this time of year, people are looking to save money because they’re spending money on other things. If I can have a protein bar or a banana and make my coffee at home to save a few bucks this time of year, that’s what I’m going to do. Is it something that the QSR people should notice. Sure. Anytime there’s a dip in sales, you want to know what factors are going on, why people are choosing how they choose, and, work with it. Is it a time to send out coupons to bring people and say hey, we’re, I know you’re on the run, we do things fast, we can help you and help you meet your goals for what you have in the year.

I do think a lot is very economically driven. People are looking to save money, and breakfast is traditionally one of the cheaper meals that you can get out, but you can also make it economical at home. So I think those are the things that are working with us as we hit into the new year. You’ll see a lot of people doing more home breakfasts, particularly when it’s colder out.

People have learned to make their own coffee at home during the pandemic and they can take it with them. Particularly if they’re back in the office. Do think that breakfast is one of those things people do like to treat themselves with, and they will continue to do that. But I think this is a trend to look at these numbers and figure out where we’re going and to see if this is some kind of trend, or if it’s just a blip.”

As reported by Revenue Management Solutions, QSR breakfast traffic dropped significantly in November, 7.4% in a year-over-year comparison. Many factors contributed to the decrease, from rising inflation to a lack of QSR promotions, but consumer habits may offer another reason for the slowdown.

Andre Natera, the host of Chef’s PSA, points to emerging trends giving consumers different choices at breakfast time.

Andre’s Thoughts:

“Looking at the trend as to why people are no longer having breakfast as much. So it’s 7.4% year-over-year decline. I think the one thing that we have to understand in business is people vote with their dollars so clearly, they’re not voting with their dollars to get whatever’s on the menu. So taking a hard look at do people really want what is being offered now, I think breakfast tacos are probably always gonna be in fashion, but as we move towards health-conscious eating. I think that they need to have something that’s quick, easy, and drinkable. So smoothies, green juices things that they could buy. Why do we think that Starbucks and all these coffee shops are doing so well is that they provide something drinkable that they could get in the car and head to work.

So in providing that because clearly, you don’t have the coffee market, but maybe you could start incorporating some of those healthy items on the breakfast menus. I think that’s where the money is moving forward.”

Written by James Kent

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