As the Christmas shopping season rapidly approaches, the restaurant industry prepares for one of its busiest seasons. Since people eat out more often when they’re out and about around meal time, it makes sense that peak shopping times go along with peak dining. Some restaurants are taking this to another level by coordinating their hours with Christmas shopping hours.
This Frog tends to eat at home most of the time, mostly in order to save money. One exception is while out Christmas shopping. I’m out shopping, going from store to store, and I’m not heading home to cook just because my stomach starts growling. Instead, I head to a nearby restaurant to eat. Millions of other Americans are the same. That’s why many restaurants plan to open early while the stores are opening early and stay open late while the stores are open late. The same holds true for Thursday.
Back in the day, Back Friday actually took place on Friday, but nowadays many stores get it started Thursday night. Many malls will be opening late Thursday evening, which means those restaurants located inside will be open as well (in many cases, the lease requires them to be open the same hours as the rest of the mall). A lot of restaurants located in the general area of those malls will do the same. That means a lot of unhappy employees who would rather slip into a turkey and gravy coma, but it also means a lot of money for the restaurant owners. For example, the pretzel restaurant Auntie Anne’s saw a 9% sales increase on Black Friday last year because they opened late Thursday night.
How big is Christmas shopping for surrounding restaurants? In a word: huge. It is estimated that 38 million Americans will eat out at restaurants while shopping on Back Friday. Another 8 million are expected to dine at restaurants on Thursday – and that’s Thanksgiving, folks!
For the restaurant entrepreneur, the challenge comes in balancing time spent with family during the holidays versus money that can be made by being open extra hours. In many cases, the decision is made to spend less time with family leading up to Christmas and make it up to them on Christmas Day. One Fat Frog is conflicted about that decision, because we love family and we love turkey and stuffing, but we also recognize that making money is very necessary for paying those bills that come every month. It’s not an easy decision, but no one ever said owning a restaurant would be easy, did they?
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