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Restaurant breakfasts starting to get popular, report says

December 12, 2011 | 11:28 am

Starbucks
Restaurant breakfasts -– or what many customers refer to as the meal that’s available when the lunch and dinner menus aren’t –- could end up becoming a huge sales generator for eateries, industry analysts say.

At the moment, the breakfast segment makes up 12% of total restaurant sales – or about $42 billion a year, according to research group Technomic.

But a.m. patronage is growing, especially at fast-food chains. The limited-service segment, which also includes fast casual restaurants such as Panera Bread Co., has added more than 230 new breakfast items in the past two years.

In November, Wendy’s Chief Executive Emil Brolick said the chain would begin focusing more on breakfast items such as its Artisan Egg Sandwich. Morning menus are responsible for 92% of overall traffic growth in the quick service segment over the last five years, he said.

During the weekday, nearly half of consumers say they occasionally pick up breakfast at an eatery, up from the 33% who said the same in 2009.

And such customers tend to be more immune than most to high prices: Most said convenience and speed is more important when it comes to their morning grub.

But several chains offered deals this season to entice patrons, with several days of free Chick-fil-A breakfasts in September and a morning of free biscuits from Carl’s Jr. in November.

Coffee is also key -– many diners are loyal to establishments that serve their preferred brew, Technomic said.

The next trend in breakfast will be health, as eateries work in multi-grain and non-fat ingredients, Technomic said.

“Oatmeal is booming,” according to the firm.

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-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: Starbucks breakfast sandwiches at a Starbucks Corp. store in Seattle. Credit: Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

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