Coffee Pouring Cup

What Placer.ai’s data reveals about… our coffee habits

After two years of outperforming the wider US dining sector, the humble cup of joe has lost some steam.

Digging into its retail location data, Placer.ai recently analysed coffee-related footfall since 2019, focusing particularly on Starbucks, Dunkin’ and Dutch Bros.

What it found was that coffee has consistently outperformed both dining and fast food. In fact, “coffee visits” in general outpaced fast food every month between July 2020 and May 2022.

However, that came to an end in June, which Placer.ai attributed to the “temporary challenges” of inflation, high fuel prices and a resurgence in Covid cases.

Data on the two bigger coffee brands – Starbucks and Dunkin’ – largely matches broader trends. Growth was fairly muted between Match and May 2022 before dipping in June. Dunkin’ footfall was down 7.8%, while Starbucks fell by a relatively mild 4.1%.

But, compared to before the pandemic, Dunkin’ has held up better than Starbucks (0% vs -6.6% in June 2022 compared to 2019). Placer.ai suggested this could reflect Dunkin’s lower prices.

By contrast, west coast drive-thru coffee chain Dutch Bros has grown tremendously since the pandemic started. Footfall in June was up 22.8% on 2021 and 178.2% on 2019.

Much of this is down to the company’s ambitious expansion, having gone public and opened nearly 100 locations in 2021. Visits per venue have also remained high compared to before the pandemic.

The drive-thru model was likely a further advantage at a time when people were more cautious about catching and spreading Covid. In total, the company’s revenue more than doubled to $497.9m at the end of 2021.

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