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Caffeine Spike: Foot Traffic To Coffee Shops Rises Almost 2 Percent

Sorry, Starbuck's and Tim Horton's Foursquare finds that indie coffee shops like San Francisco's Philz were the ones driving the visits.

Visits to U.S. coffee shops this year grew 1.7 percent year-over-year, location intelligence company Foursquare has found, noting that despite the ubiquity of Starbucks, it was the smaller independents that are behind the gains.

Independent coffee shops saw traffic rise 5 percent year-over-year, compared to larger coffee chains, which saw a little less than 1 percent growth during the same period.

Naturally, when it comes to loyalty, having multiple locations is clear benefit. Foursquare looked at a number of factors related to chain loyalty, such as how often and regular a coffee shop was visited as well as its share of traffic within the cafe category.

As Foursquare put it, “chains with strong food and coffee pairings inspire the most consumer loyalty.”

The top 5 coffee chains that Americans are most loyal to:

  1. Starbucks
  2. Dunkin’ Donuts
  3. Tim Horton’s
  4. Scooter’s Coffee & Yogurt
  5. Dutch Bros Coffee
QSRs vs Coffee Shops … Source: Foursquare

While loyalty is key, when it comes to actual feet walking through the door,  Philz Coffee, a San Francisco based, third-wave coffee chain, is the winner in terms of growth, something that is indicative of a larger preference for smaller brands by caffeine addicts.

According to Foursquare, Philz, which has locations in Washington, DC and Los Angeles in addition to its SF hometown, saw visits rise 11 percent since May 2016.

For the most part, it appears that the increased amount of independent coffee shops popping up around the country while larger chains have tried to be smarter about their locations amid greater competition from quick serve restaurants like McDonald’s seeking to expand its breakfast offerings in order to generate more visits throughout the day.

At the same time, Starbucks shuttered all of its 379 Teavana outlets this summer, even as U.S. sales rose 5 percent at established locations.

Coffee Shops’ Prime Times

As for when is the “prime time” for coffee shops, while a 2015  “coffee report” by Square among its retail clients found that 8:30am during the week saw the most customer activity, Foursquare, which based its analysis on foot traffic patterns and lifestyle preferences of visitors to coffee chains from its apps, Foursquare City Guide, and Foursquare Swarm, found two particular times for drawing the coffee crowd.

With regard to highest traffic spikes for coffee, a Foursquare rep said that that Saturday at 10am is the most popular moment to get coffee, as that time 15 percent busier than the rest of the week. With regard to weekdays, coffee shop foot traffic initially spikes between 8-9am, and then again around noon.

As for the most popular month: yep, thanks to Starbuck’s cult of Pumpkin Spice, October is the busiest month for coffee shops, followed by the chill of December, while promotions for National Coffee Month in August makes that the third highest in terms of foot traffic, Foursquare said.

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of GeoMarketing.com. A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.