March 08, 2018

Daylight Savings or winter storms: which has a bigger impact on restaurant revenues?

As we get ready to spring forward an hour this weekend for Daylight Savings Time, we were curious to know if local restaurants sales would be as sluggish as we all feel in the aftermath of losing an hour of sleep.

Our Data Science team analyzed sales patterns at tens of thousands of local restaurants nationwide during every day of 2017 so we could understand what impact the seasonal time adjustment has on consumer behavior, and make predictions about what might happen this year.


The impact of Daylight Savings Time on local restaurants

Yes. There is a dip on Sunday, March 12th (Daylight Savings, 2017) but as we can see on the far left, we expect to see a dip around this time of the month for the average restaurant in March. While it may seem that this shows an impact, it’s important to remember that the effects of daylight savings wouldn’t be felt until the following days, not on the day of. In the following days, we see a steady climb up, just as we see in the previous week. To put it another way, Daylight Savings Time doesn’t have much, if any, impact on restaurant revenues.

Out of curiosity, we specifically looked at restaurants trends in the two states that do not observe Daylight Savings Time, Arizona and Hawaii. Restaurants in both states follow the same trend as the national average—no real impact. So, even if you hate what the time change does to your body clock and circadian rhythm, it shouldn’t affect sales if you run an independent eatery.  


The impact of winter storms on local restaurants

When you look at the graph above, you’ll notice a bit of a wobble in the upward trend around March 14. It turns out, last year around this same time, a winter storm hit the East Coast, not unlike the storm they’re experiencing now.

Here we can see a similar trend between the national average and the northeast on Sunday and the following Monday, but on the day a big storm hit the East Coast, sales fell 50% below average. That drop in revenue was a substantial enough to affect the national average.

Still, there is no reason to fret. While weather can have a profound impact on restaurants, local businesses are resilient. Just as we saw in our analysis of hurricanes on small businesses, local businesses bounce back quickly. Within a couple of days, restaurants on the East Coast were back in business and reporting above-average sales, just in time for March Madness and St. Patrick’s Day.

So while you’re losing an hour of sleep this weekend, there is no need to lose sleep worrying about the impact Daylight Savings Time will have on your restaurant, because there really isn’t one. Even if a late winter storm, like the big nor’easter, hits your town, you can take heart in the fact that sales will bounce back quickly. 


Just for fun

Ever wondered when or why Daylight Savings Time was implemented? Hint: It has nothing to do with farmers. And, of course, don’t forget to adjust your clocks this weekend!

Womply analyzed daily revenue for 25,893 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia for all 365 days of the 2017 calendar year. Restaurants were only qualified for the analysis if Womply had a full year of transaction history and the business recorded multiple transactions per day, on average.