Is Thanksgiving Eve really one of the biggest days of the year at local bars?

Black Wednesday, Drinksgiving, Thanksgiving Eve, Blackout Wednesday . . . No matter what name it goes by, the day before Thanksgiving has rapidly become one of the most popular days of the year at local bars across the country.

With plenty of people home for the holidays and a nice long weekend ahead, it should come as no surprise that millions of Americans like to spend the night before Thanksgiving cutting loose with plenty to drink. (And the promise of a big Thanksgiving dinner as a perfect hangover cure doesn’t hurt either.)

But is Drinksgiving/Black Wednesday actually big enough to move the needle for local bars? We analyzed transaction data at over 3,000 local bars and lounges to find out.

How big is Thanksgiving Eve for local bars?

The “Black Wednesday” stereotype is that of a local bar filled to the brim with hordes of college kids, home for the holidays and eager to reconnect with old friends and classmates.

But do local bars do more business on Black Wednesday? Or is the stereotype closer to fiction than fact?

We analyzed transaction data at 3,000 bars and lounges across the country, and here’s what we learned:

As you can see in the chart above, bars experience a significant lift in revenue on Thanksgiving Eve. The average bar in our analysis brought in 52% more revenue on Black Wednesday compared to a typical Wednesday.

This is primarily driven by an increase in foot traffic, with bars averaging about 28 transactions compared to the usual 20.

The average ticket price on Drinksgiving is also up slightly when compared to a typical Wednesday, so not only do bars see more patrons than usual, but patrons who are willing to ring up a larger-than-average tab.

Is Thanksgiving Eve one of the biggest days of the year for local bars?

As we’ve detailed in a previous article about Halloween’s impact on bars and lounges, weekends are massive for bars. 62% of all revenue comes in on Fridays through Sundays alone, and Wednesdays are typically less than half as busy as an average Saturday.

In fact, Saturdays are so big for local bars, that 49 of the top 50 days of the year by total consumer spending are all Saturdays. The only non-Saturday in the list was the Sunday after St. Patrick’s Day, 2018’s 43rd biggest day of the year.

Subsequently, to see how Thanksgiving Eve stacks up as one of the big “drinking holidays” of the year, we took a look at the top weekdays of the year:

No surprise, New Year’s Eve stands head and shoulders above as the biggest drinking weekday of the year with consumer spending up 87% when compared to an average Monday (otherwise the slowest day of the week at local bars).

Thanksgiving Eve, meanwhile, is the third biggest weekday drinking day of the year, coming in just behind the day before Independence Day. Memorial Day and Labor Day round out the top 5.

Other top weekdays that just missed the top 5 were the 4th of July (#6), New Year’s Day (#7), Christmas Eve (#8), and the day before Drinksgiving (#9).

An important side note: St. Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo, two major drinking holidays, both fell on a Saturday in 2018 — making them the #1 and #2 days of the year by overall consumer spending.

Which cities are home to the busiest bars on Thanksgiving Eve?

Black Wednesday clearly moves the needle for bars and lounges nationally, but is it the case for every corner of the country? Or has this new unofficial holiday failed to catch on in certain cities? Let’s take a look at transaction data at bars by metro area and find out.

Los Angeles area bars and lounges brought in 141% more total revenue on Thanksgiving Eve than on a typical Wednesday, the largest increase in our analysis.

Bars in Akron, Boston, Cleveland, and Rochester also saw locals spend more than twice as much at local bars on Drinksgiving than average.

Chicago, which is widely credited as the birthplace of Blackout Eve, came in tied for 7th placed on our list with an 82% increase in total revenue.

But, as you can see in the chart above, Thanksgiving Eve certainly isn’t huge everywhereSeveral cities in our analysis experienced only moderate lifts in total revenue, while our bottom 7 all saw a decrease in total revenue compared to a typical Wednesday.

None more than San Jose bars and lounges, who experienced a 34.6% drop in total revenue on Drinksgiving.

Is Thanksgiving Eve also big for liquor stores?

What about local liquor, beer, and wine stores? The days before major holidays are often huge for liquor stores, so we wanted to see where Thanksgiving Eve stacked up. Here’s what we found:

Despite Blackout Wednesday’s status as an unofficial holiday centered on going out for drinks, the day before Thanksgiving is far more massive for local liquor stores. Far from surprising, given how many people are stocking up on drinks to serve Thursday feasts, but impressive figures nonetheless.

Local liquor, beer, and wine stores averaged a whopping 180% more in revenue on Thanksgiving Eve compared to a typical Wednesday. This is thanks to a substantial increase in both number of average daily transactions (+95%) and average ticket size (+43%). Which means liquor stores seeing nearly twice as many customers as usual, and those customers are buying a lot more booze as well.

In fact, Thanksgiving Eve is so big for local liquor stores, it cracks the top 5 days of the year overall — not just the top weekdays.

When ranked by increase in total consumer spending vs annual average, Thanksgiving Eve was the 3rd biggest day of the year for local liquor stores. Unsurprisingly, the other major “Eve” holidays—New Year’s and Christmas—claimed the top two spots of the year.

So if you’d like to avoid the crowds when you’re stocking up before Thanksgiving this year, think about hitting up your local liquor store a day or two before Thanksgiving Eve.

How to get the most out of Thanksgiving Eve if you own or manage a local bar

If you own or manage your own local bar, do you find Thanksgiving Eve to increasingly becoming one of the busiest days of the year? Or does it feel like just another Wednesday in November?

If “Drinksgiving” or “Black Wednesday” isn’t really a “thing” in your neck of the woods, you can always make it one! The unofficial holiday’s popularity is only spreading, so get the word out with a little social media marketing that your bar is the place to cut loose before the extra long weekend.

You can also go the extra mile by running special deals, offering unique Thanksgiving-themed cocktails, or even holding a special event (particularly one catered to the college-aged crowd most associated with celebrating Black Wednesday).

And if your bar is always packed on Thanksgiving Eve, think of how you can use the boost in foot traffic to pay off in the slower seasons ahead. Make a hard push to ask customers to leave you a review, or put together a strategy to collect email addresses to send your customers special deals or keep them posted on future events.

Check out a few of our helpful guides for bar and lounge 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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