The early bird special – not just for frugal retirees
Restaruants should take another look at the early bird special. It just might be another tactical move to please customers and increase traffic and sales.
The early bird special isn’t just for frugal retirees who don’t like to drive in the dark. Count the millennials among those looking for dining deals at off-peak hours.
Add families who want to feed their children a sensible meal before a weeknight sports practice. And young professionals who come straight from the office.
There is a broad range of consumers looking to stretch their dining dollars when restaurants are less busy.
“There is a great deal of pent-up demand from consumers looking to dine out,” Christin Fernandez, a spokeswoman for the National Restaurant Association, wrote in an email. “Our research shows that more than seven out of 10 adults say they would consider dining out more often if menu prices were lower during off-peak times. Restaurateurs can capitalize on this demand by lowering menu prices using special promotions during slower times to drive foot traffic.”
Many restaurants have embraced the early dining discount. The association found, in a 2013 restaurant trends survey, that a quarter of family- and casual-dining operators and 36 percent of fine-dining establishments offered off-peak dining at reduced prices. A majority of restaurant owners believe this trend will become more popular in the future.
The early bird revival was perhaps most noticeable a few years ago in states like Florida, where the real estate crash reverberated throughout the economy and forced people of all ages to rethink the notion of eating a steak at 4:30 in the afternoon.
The seniors-only stigma apparently has faded. According to the nationwide survey, 72 percent of adults said they would consider dining out more often if menu prices were lower during off-peak times. Some 80 percent of those who frequently eat at fast food and fast casual places, like Smash Burger or Chipotle, said they would take advantage of early-bird deals, too.
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