How much do coffee shops make, and when are coffee shops busiest?

In this six minute read:

  • How much money do coffee shops make on a typical day?
  • Which days of the week are biggest for coffee shops?
  • The busy (and slow) seasons for coffee shops
  • The biggest days of the year for coffee shops (and the impact of National Coffee Day)
  • How to make the most out of busy (or slow) times if you own or manage a coffee shop

For many Americans, coffee is more than a simple beverage. It’s a vital part of their morning routine, a mid-afternoon savior, a way of life. And if it feels like that line at the office coffee machine or the local coffee shop gets longer each year, you might not not be imagining things.

According to a 2018 survey by Reuters, the number of Americans drinking a daily cup of coffee is at its highest level in the past six years. 64% of Americans age 18 or over said they’d had a cup of coffee the previous day (up 2% vs 2017).

While the majority of coffee drinkers still get their fill at home, neighborhood coffee shops remain an extremely popular place for people to get their daily caffeine fix.

Naturally, we wanted to learn how much local and independent coffee shops make on a normal day. Are there “busy seasons” for coffee shops, or do baristas stay equally busy year round?

And what about National Coffee Day (celebrated every year on September 29th), does a day dedicated to one of America’s most popular drinks move the needle?

We analyzed credit card transaction data at local coffee shops from across the country to answer these questions and more.

How much do coffee shops make on an average day throughout the year?

We started by analyzing the average day throughout the year at local coffee shops throughout the country.

To do this we examined at the average number of transactions on a given day throughout the year, what the average ticket price was per transaction, and how much revenue the average coffee shop brought in. Here’s what we found:

On any given day throughout the year, the average coffee shop we analyzed brought in about $873 in revenue. They processed around 79 transactions at $11.11 per ticket.

These numbers, of course, are merely an average. As you can imagine, coffee shops can vary greatly. On one hand, you may have a smaller shop in a big city that specializes in fast and cheap coffee, while on the other hand you have a gourmet coffee shop that specializes in specialty drinks like cappuccinos and ristrettos.

The busiest coffee shops in our analysis, for example, processed over 200 transactions on average per day, while some of the slower shops averaged around a dozen transactions per day.

Average ticket size was somewhat more consistent, but also varied somewhat at the extremes—with some shops averaging nearly $20 per ticket on the high end, and several averaging $7 per ticket on the low end.

What are the biggest days of the week for coffee shops?

Many other food and beverage businesses do huge numbers during the weekends, but does the same hold true for coffee shops? Or does our need for weekday pick-me-up keep coffee shops busy all week long?

Let’s find out.

As you can see in the charts above, coffee shops do stay consistently busy throughout the week. Well over half of all coffee shop revenue (55%) comes in between Mondays and Thursdays—which is not the case for many food and beverage businesses. (Pizza restaurants, as we saw in our recent analysis, bring in only 46% of their revenue on weekdays).

However, the coffee shops in our analysis processed an average of 87 transactions on Fridays, making it the busiest day in terms of average foot traffic. Sundays, meanwhile, see the largest average ticket of the week at $12.68 per ticket.

What time of year is biggest for local coffee shops?

Americans spend money at coffee shops equally throughout the week, but is the same true throughout the year as well? Are there “busy seasons” when it comes to grabbing a cup of coffee? Or do Americans turn to a cup of joe for their caffeine fix regardless of the season?

We answered this question by first examining the average amount of total money being spent at coffee shops during each week throughout the year.

As you can see, the year stars out slow (perhaps as many Americans make New Year’s resolutions to cut back on their caffeine habit). Things pick up quickly, though, and then stay more or less consistent until a big spike during the holidays.

But total dollars being spent at coffee shops only tells us part of what’s happening, so we decided to take an even closer look. We next looked a the average daily transactions per location vs the average ticket price per location throughout the year.

As you can see, this reveals a more detailed view of the year at the average coffee shop. The year still starts out particularly slow in terms of average transactions, but average ticket price is actually relatively high. (Perhaps it’s the coffee connoisseurs who shrug off any notion of a “no caffeine” New Year’s resolution).

Transactions then rise much more sharply through the spring, but drop during the long, warm days of summer. Then, as school starts up and the days get darker, foot traffic picks back up again before dropping precipitously during at the end of the year during the post-holiday lull.

Average ticket, which stays remarkably consistent throughout the year, skyrockets during the holiday season. Our hypothesis is that customers might be splurging on fancier drinks (hello pumpkin spice latte season!), placing larger orders for the whole family, or both.

What are the biggest days of the year for coffee shops?

As we just detailed above, the holiday months appear to be particularly big for coffee shops, thanks to huge increases in average ticket size and seasonal foot traffic. But we next wanted to see which days of the year were the biggest.

First, we looked at the days when consumer spending, or the total number of dollars being spent nationwide, was highest at local coffee shops. Here’s what we found:

The holidays were huge for coffee shops across the country, with all 5 top days falling between December 15th and 22nd. No doubt due to Americans spending some of their time off at the local coffee shop, or grabbing a cup to fuel them through another long day of Christmas shopping.

But, much like with our annual view, we also decided to see the days when coffee shops were busiest and the days when customers spent the most per-ticket:

Customers spent the most per-order at coffee shops on Christmas Day. With only 16% of the shops in our analysis staying open on Dec 25th, it’s likely that those customers paid a bit of a premium. We can also assume that those orders, like the rest of the top ticket days, also consisted of more large orders for entire families or groups. (And hopefully nice big tips for hard-working baristas spending their holidays manning the cappuccino machine).

The busiest weeks in terms of average number of transactions, meanwhile, all fell between late September and mid-November. Not surprising, as the annual chart view shows average transactions are at their highest during the fall months.

A closer look at National Coffee Day

As we mentioned to start the article, National Coffee Day falls each year on September 29th. And while the day wasn’t big enough to crack any of our top 5 lists, it was the 16th biggest day of the year overall, and the 9th busiest day in terms of average transactions.

Let’s take a closer look and see whether National Coffee Day is a big day or a bust for local coffee shops:

As you can see, National Coffee Days’s success came almost entirely from an increase in customers, as the average ticket price was only slightly more than the typical day. The average number of transactions, meanwhile, were way up compared to a typical day.

This suggests that coffee shops who go the extra mile to attract a lot of customers on National Coffee Day through discounts or special promotions may do particularly well on the holiday.

If you own or manage a coffee shop: here’s how to get the most out of the biggest times of the year.

Americans are crazy about their coffee. But, as we’ve just discovered, coffee shops aren’t always filled to the brim with customers.

Knowing which days of the week, month, or year are the days when you should expect larger orders or increased foot traffic can help you know when and how to advertise to new and returning customers alike.

Coffee shop owners should come prepared for the slowdown in foot traffic during the summer months by offering and advertising a house-made cold brew. Or approach specialty holidays like National Coffee Day with special discounts or coupons aimed at high-volume, low-ticket foot traffic.

Then gear up for the big-spending holidays with special deals on large group-orders, specialty brews, and more.

Restaurant owners should also be prepared to take advantage of the surge in total number of transactions. Take advantage of the days/times that bring an increase in new customers by using creative solutions to capture customer information so and inviting them back with a special discount or deal later down the road.

Check out our post on 4 crucial steps to building an effective small business marketing plan for even more ideas and suggestions.

Check out a few of our helpful guides for coffee shop owners:

Finally, check out how Womply’s reputation management software helps make all this easier while saving you time and money. Womply has helped businesses like yours increase revenue by 20%, see 22% more repeat customers, and save 10 hours of time per week. Learn more, plus get free reputation monitoring and customer insights when you sign up for Womply Free!

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