Happy hour has always rolled around at the end of the work day, ranging from 4 p.m. to early evening. It’s when bars and pubs catch people as they transition from professional to personal time. The question is, are these the happiest hours for convenience stores to sell adult beverages, too?
Each state, and in some instances counties and cities, has specific regulations regarding the hours during which retailers can sell alcoholic beverages. The majority of these regulations starts in the morning and runs well into the night. That allots basically a full day for stores to ring up sales, which is good news. But not every hour sees adult drinks being added to basket items.
Year after year, industry research reiterates the busiest times of day for c-stores traditionally occur during morning and even commutes, attracting customers on their way to and from work. In-store observations also suggest traffic picks up midday. Still, that doesn’t mean customers want to add alcohol, beer, wine or fermented malt beverages (FMBs) to coffee and breakfast purchases or after-lunch sweet treats and breath fresheners.
Generally speaking, the late afternoon/early evening rush is still the peak period for people to buy adult beverages. That’s when individuals seem ready to indulge with a libation. Anheuser-Busch research suggests the vast number of beer buyers consume the product within an hour of purchasing. That said, stores operating 24/7 also may experience upticks late into the night after bars and grocery stores close if sales of alcohol are allowed by state and local laws.
Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic shook up traditional buying patterns, and adult beverages were not exempt. Instead of meeting at a bar or pub, people arranged virtual happy hours, and that actually benefitted convenience stores. According to Koupon Media, these online get-togethers drove people to visit c-stores later in the day to replenish at-home beverage supplies.
So while coffee may always brew up profits early in the day, and soda or energy drinks may quench post-lunch thirst, it appears the late afternoon/early evening commute times remain the happiest hours for adult beverage sales in c-stores.