Insight Deep Dive: CE Restaurant Data Illuminates Driving Forces Behind Restaurant Business Challenges

Restaurants have been facing a number of structural challenges that are causing major disruption to their businesses. Between fluctuations in hybrid work schedules, the continued growth of third-party delivery services, and inflation, it’s difficult for restaurant chains to understand whether their business is just following peers succumbing to industry pressures or beginning to underperform competition. Third-party restaurant data from firms like Consumer Edge can help illuminate the business context by showing restaurants how they are performing versus competition on a variety of dimensions. In today’s Insight Deep Dive, we show how day of week comparisons can help restaurants more thoroughly understand their business context and take the appropriate actions where necessary.

Looking at how much of each week’s spend occurs on different days, it’s easy to see large volatility from week to week. For mall restaurants like Wetzel’s Pretzels or Cinnabon that have a much larger share of the restaurant wallet on Saturday and Sunday, these trends can be very important to track in order to understand whether their business is flailing and action is needed. For instance, during the summer months when students and teachers are off and many families are taking vacation, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday represent a higher percentage of restaurant spend than during the rest of the year. Tracking the overall cadence of spend for different days can help restaurants make sure they are in line with when consumers are eating out.

Restaurant Changes in Spend by Day of Week

Note: Includes both Limited-Service and Full-Service Restaurants

One of the largest structural changes for restaurants has been the shift to hybrid work schedules. Many downtown lunch spots have recovered from the pandemic on Tuesday through Thursday, but have been struggling on Mondays and Fridays. Among the top chains that have a disproportionately lower wallet share on Monday and Friday versus the rest of the week, it is interesting to note the inclusion of two pricey Steak/Seafood houses – Capital Grille and Eddie V’s. It’s likely that as workers stay home the first and last day of the workweek, these chains are suffering from fewer business lunches and power dinners at those times. 

Other chains seeing fewer guests on these days include shops specializing in mid-workday treats like Godiva, Nestle Toll House Café (recently rebranded as Great American Cookies), and Mary’s Mountain Cookies.

Restaurants Slowest on Monday and Friday

Note: 364 days ending 6/18/23; wallet Share as a percentage of each restaurant’s respective Limited-Service and Full-Service Restaurant industry

Given this dynamic, in a given week it can be hard for those working at Capital Grille or Eddie V’s corporate offices to understand fluctuations in their business just by looking at their own data. A rainy Thursday or a holiday Monday could disrupt normal business patterns and lead to tricky data interpretations. Instead, comparing their performance to competitors helps truly understand their position outside of macro conditions.

Looking just at Monday and Friday data, it seems that Capital Grille has been steadily picking up share versus competitor Morton’s on these slower days. This should be a strong signal to the chain’s parent Darden to keep up what it’s doing to try to get business back, and perhaps to apply the learnings to Eddie V’s as well. Using the Consumer Edge platform, Capital Grille could even dig deeper into whether the shift was in a specific market. For instance, noticing that Florida has seen an even more dramatic share increase for Capital Grille on Mondays and Fridays could help the chain target recovery initiatives more specifically to markets with similar profiles.

Relative Share of Spend

If you’d like to benefit from using our restaurant data as well as other industry data year-round to track trends and dynamics like these, reach out to insights@consumer-edge.com.

Stacie Rabinowitz is the Director of Content for the CEIC. Explore more of her insights here and follow her on LinkedIn.