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Why Consumer Dining Times are Trending Earlier

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January 04, 2024

Before 2020, 8:00 pm was one of the most popular times to dine out. Restaurants were bustling with later-evening patrons. However, in recent years, more and more places have seen a shift in dining-time trends. Restaurant goers are visiting their favorite restaurants earlier and earlier. In fact, a study by Placer.ai revealed that diners eat out between 4:00 pm and 7:00 pm. 


It’s not just dinners that are seeing a time shift. Customers are choosing earlier reservation times across the board. 10 percent of all patrons in 2023 visited establishments between 12:00 pm and 5:00 pm.

““more-diners-are-eating-out-between-4-am-and-7-pm””

WHY CONSUMER DINING TIMES HAVE CHANGED

The study by Placer.ai points to a few main reasons patrons are dining out earlier now than before.

A NEW REMOTE WORKFORCE

According to Forbes, 12.7 percent of employees work entirely remotely, and 28.2 percent are hybrid workers. Some workers no longer have regular morning and evening commutes, giving them more flexible schedules. They can enjoy an early breakfast from a neighborhood joint before starting their workday or simply clock out from their home office and head straight to dinner.

““12-percent-of-employees-work-entirely-remotely””


BLURRED EMPLOYMENT AND PERSONAL SCHEDULES

The modern work landscape, especially with remote and hybrid workers, can blur clear lines between work-life boundaries. Remote work, 24/7 connectivity, and social media means that work can spill over into personal time and vice versa. 53 percent of workers state that they work more hours now than they did pre-2020. Dining out earlier can be a reprieve from an extended work day. Restaurants can also be a space where people can work while enjoying a meal.

THE “NETFLIX EFFECT”

Entertainment is a large part of our everyday lives. The rise of the digital age, on-demand programming, and streaming services expose us to a wealth of entertainment content. In fact, 200 million people worldwide watch Netflix content daily. With more and more entertainment options, patrons prioritize their favorite shows and binge-watching in the evenings, meaning they want to dine earlier.

3 WAYS RESTAURANTS CAN STAY AHEAD OF THE CURVE

Earlier dining times have exciting impacts on restaurant operations for prepared establishments. If you want to ensure your restaurant and team are primed for restaurant consumer behavior, follow these tips.

1. USE TECH TO MANAGE RESERVATIONS

As customers adjust their dining times, restaurants must adapt to changing reservation needs. Utilizing tech-based reservation platforms allows owners to manage traffic flow. They also can reduce scheduling errors and store customer data for targeted marketing.

2. RETHINK HAPPY HOUR

Happy hours were designed to capture diners in the off-hours. However, traditional happy hour times–3:00 pm to 5:00 pm–are fast becoming common dine-out times. If you want to drive more business to your door, consider offering a second evening happy hour. Happy hour accounts for a little over 60 percent of a restaurant's weekly average revenue. Adding a second happy hour or shifting your discounted meal and drink times could help increase sales.

3. PREPARE STAFF FOR BUSY EARLY DINING TIMES

If your establishment bustles earlier than in years past, you’ll want to change your staffing schedule to account for the increased customer base. You might want to bring servers and bartenders in earlier to help manage the floor and bar. Another solution is to hire and build a more robust employee base

ENHANCE RESTAURANT OPERATIONS WITH BUSINESS RESOURCES FROM US FOODS CHEF’STORE

CHEF’STORE is known for its high-quality bulk restaurant supplies and exceptional business resources. From website design to staff training, we are here for our culinary community.  

Stop by your nearest wholesale CHEF’STORE location or take advantage of our third-party delivery options. 

The information materials and opinions contained in this blog/website are for general information purposes only, are not intended to constitute legal or other professional advice and should not be relied on or treated as a substitute for specific advice relevant to particular circumstances. We make no warranties, representations, or undertakings about any of the content of this blog/website (including, without limitation, as to the quality, accuracy, completeness or fitness for any particular purpose of such content).

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