Is breakfast making a comeback?

Restaurants have typically relied on commuters for breakfast sales, however, with fewer people going into the office, this daypart has seen a significant drop in recent years. But with remote job listings down over 20 per cent over the last six months, will sales start to come back as more people head to the office? The consensus so far, is yes, that restaurants will see increased morning traffic for breakfast this year as more people return to commuting.

In order to entice consumers to come back, many QSRs are adding LTOs and seasonal items to their morning menus. Wendy’s has added a breakfast burrito and a Cinnabon pull-apart to sweeten the deal, while Taco Bell has tested breakfast tots, and Tim Horton’s has recently released the spring lineup for breakfast and beyond.

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Many companies have reinstituted company travel as part of their return to work practices, and that means that employees are once again enjoying a morning meal. Reports show that as many as 90 per cent of employees could be back at the office this year, so QSRs are expecting increased traffic and higher breakfast sales. And, according to Circana, breakfast visits were up four per cent in 2023, so we may already be seeing that traffic picking up.

Research shows that males aged 45 to 54 are the demographic to focus on, as they spend five times more than the regular morning customer. Gourmet coffee locations are also in the competitive mix, seeing an eight per cent increase in the number of locations last year.

Reports also show that more people ordered delivery for their restaurant breakfasts than for any other meal of the day, which may decrease as employees return to their offices, but it is something for restaurants to consider as they build their takeout and grab-and-go menus this year.

Some research shows that consumers are choosing to visit restaurants for breakfast or brunch as a way to treat themselves at a lower price point, and that could hurt restaurant revenues. Operators need to find ways to entice guests to visit during all mealtimes so that breakfast sales don’t replace the higher guest cheques that typically accompany dinner orders.