In April of this year, I started helping a friend in her a local cafe while one of her baristas was recovering from surgery. All throughout the summer she was constantly remarking that the coffee sales were down considerably from last year (some days as much as 50% less sales compared to last year at the same time).
I noticed that as the summer progressed, people who had been coming in and ordering espressos, lattes, etc. were switching to just getting cups of house blend drip coffee (and sometimes tea). Many remarked that they couldn't afford the $3.75 for their morning coffee fix every day.
Some people, who usually bought coffee and a muffin each morning, started eliminating the muffin stating that they were saving money and calories too. Others would compromise, and instead of paying $1.60 for a muffin, they bought one cookie for 80 cents.
An interesting thing is that I often noticed that some of the same people would return later on in the afternoon and buy the same items (coffee and cookie) for an afternoon "pick-me-up."
Another interesting thing is that the summer sales of "smoothies" (iced blended drinks) were down too. At a price of $4.00 each (and tons of calories), people were considering the smoothies but deciding to get iced tea or iced coffee at $1.75 instead. Others went to the cooler and got a bottle of water or Pepsi for $1.50.
It's obvious that even though many people don't have much money to spend right now, they still want to get their treats. I think as long as you can make them feel welcome and comfortable when they come into your cafe, they will spend what they can afford, and maybe they'll keep coming back and eventually buy more when they have more money to spend.
I know it's little comfort to hear that lots of businesses are feeling the pinch of the falling economy. I'm sure you're not alone. I know you and the other cafe owners in this forum will come up with creative ways to ride it out until things get better.
From someone who relies heavily on the growth and success of gourmet coffee shops around the US, I must say that we’ve noticed a definite slowdown in our biscotti sales to coffee shops. Not all, but most of our coffee shops have been ordering less frequently this year, say once per 3 - 4 months, versus every 2 months. Some have blamed the economy for the recent slowdown in sales.
There are a few however, who don’t seem to be affected by the recent economic slowdown. It’s hard to say why these few have managed to actually grow over the last year or so. Location could have something to do with it. Perhaps these few are thriving in the more affluent areas of the US, like San Francisco, Boston and New York City for example, where the economy is quite high. So much so that paying $5 for coffee & biscotti isn’t a big deal to them. 8)
Another thing I can say that may be of substance is that Latinos are becoming a force to be reckoned with. The Spanish speaking population in the US has increased substantially. Many businesses are profiting from the huge influx of immigrants from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Central and South America, etc. They are hard working and very conscious of their purchases when it comes to food for their families. They come from countries that don’t sell overly processed food and drink. They are more accustomed to fresh fruits, juices and grains that are indigenous to their land. McDonald’s can’t cater to their needs, nor can Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts.
Hang up some signs that emphasize the natural aspect of your coffees and even pastries, etc. Put a Spanish twist on at least one of your products if possible. “I’d like to try your Spanish Latte please.” After all, a lot of our coffee beans are grown in Spanish speaking countries like Colombia, Guatemala & Costa Rica.
(It should be noted that not all Latinos care for spicy foods. I think that’s mainly popular in Mexico, some of Central America (& Texas heh heh). So, no hot sauce or black pepper drinks! Also, don’t forget that although Brazilians speak Portuguese, they are still very much “Latino”.)
Oh yeah, the proof is in the empanadas - We have a new coffee shop/roaster account that can’t get enough of our Coconut Macadamia biscotti for their Latino customers. Otherwise, those particular biscotti are not appealing to Americans for some reason. It’s definitely something to think about…. :wink: