This suggests many of Dunkin’s efforts to boost daylong service, especially with promotions, espresso, cold drinks, and snack items, have translated in a COVID-19 landscape.
Dunkin’ said during its Q1 review that same-store sales declined 35 percent at the end of March and into early April, with more recent drops hovering around 25 percent. “With customers' daily morning routines disrupted, we are seeing a shift in sales across dayparts,” CEO Dave Hoffmann said. “Sales volumes in the early morning are down but have picked up from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. as people venture out for a break.”
The main decline, he added, was taking place in the 6 to 9 a.m. part of Dunkin’s business. “But we've seen a nice uptick on the 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. So we're positive in that timeframe,” Hoffmann said. “Whether that's people are getting a little cabin fever and they want to come out for their cup of coffee or whatever, we feel like we've been able to capture that.”
The overall sales decline, however, shows how critical getting morning routine customers back will be to Dunkin’. Hoffmann said they’re already working on a “welcome back thank you to America,” type of campaign when the ramp-up phase really kicks into gear. And Dunkin’ will pay attention to what the “new normal” looks like in terms of customer trends.
Hoffmann mentioned the possibility of the starting hour for people moving up as they elect for their own cars over public transportation. “We think we've got a business model that is nimble and is built for what the new reality—whatever it's going to look like, we're ready to adapt and win in that environment,” he said.
Hoffmann added it would be critical for brands to focus on ways to bring back morning rituals in a post-pandemic world. In Dunkin’s case, a low-touch, affordable-ticket business model. Frictionless ordering. Incentives to use contactless mobile ordering through the app. Curbside. Drive thru. More delivery. And so on.
Placer.ai found Starbucks is welcoming most of its visits in the afternoon hours. In 2019, 9.2 percent of its visits in March and April came from 3 to 4 p.m. It’s bumped to 9.9 percent in 2020.
These past two crisis months, Starbucks saw 20.3 percent of its daily visits between 8 to 11 a.m., compared to 19 percent in 2019. So it’s actually up a bit, although this is a percentage of total visits, not the amount of overall visits, which is down considerably. Panera Bread’s visits only decreased 0.4 percent for the morning hours of 8 to 11 a.m., from 14.6 percent to 14.2 percent of overall visits.