Yep, 30% of pre-Covid sales is the new kinda-normal, for now...
Life is returning to New York City as we enter Phase 4. Businesses are opening back up; restaurants are making street dining work; and certain companies are even having employees return to the office. But what does this look like on the ground?
For coffee shops, that’s looking like sales that are 30% of last year's pre-Covid level, according to recent data from the Odeko insights team.
Depending on your expectations, that number could sound dire, or it could be a pleasant surprise. We asked some coffee shop managers how they’re looking at this stat, and what it means for them:
Bird & Branch’s co-founder Brandon Lee is seeing sales closer to 20-25% of last year. That makes sense, he adds, because the store is close to Times Square, which has suffered the double whammy of empty offices and no tourism. Locals are coming in, though, and often buying bags of beans to go. “People still need coffee, but many aren't making the trip for it as often,” he says.
Kona Coffee owner Tae Kim is seeing that 30% figure, but for him, not much else about the business has changed. And it’s not just coffee shops: “I spoke with my friends who own restaurants and the numbers were pretty similar across the board, from take-out to fine-dining.”
Marie Blachère’s West Village location was closed last July, but COO Christophe Mars is at least seeing a 75% uptick in sales from June. Offices are still mostly closed, but essential workers and construction workers have returned, providing some foot traffic. Tickets, too, are about 15% more than the Before Times, as people buy more in a single trip.
Birch Coffeeco-founder Jeremy Lyman is happy to say that the sales average across Birch’s reopened stores is closer to 50% of last year’s levels. That includes stores that have only been open for a week, along with some that are almost on par with last year. Better yet, customers have been uniformly positive and patient as Birch continues to work out the best way to safely serve them. But, Lyman cautions, “This is going to take time, plain and simple.”
Jason Hom, co-founder of Créme hadn’t even opened a year ago. Creme was just building momentum when the pandemic hit and slowed things way down. While he wishes more people were walking around, customers are making sure he knows Creme’s reopening is appreciated.
Ron Shuler, VP of Operations at Joe Coffee Company, has also seen larger tickets than normal. “Customers are buying for what may be several people, or choosing to buy that beverage and food item during one trip,” he explains, “when they may have come back later in the day for another beverage and food item.” But he, too, is seeing a ceiling of 30% of last year’s pre-Covid sales, and doesn’t see that changing anytime soon. Shuler’s using this data to figure out what locations should be opened, and which ones should remain open.
Odeko is thankful that coffee shops are able to begin rebuilding their businesses and serving the customers in their communities. We will continue to look for any insights and data to ensure these small businesses can power their communities and local economies.
Customers can order at their convenience, baristas can concentrate on crafting those incredible beverages, and, best of all, when the customer comes in to get their drink, the two can converse rather than transact.