May 16, 2024 - News

Weekend restaurant traffic is on the rise in San Francisco

Three slope charts that show the change in weekly share of restaurant transactions from 2019 to 2023 in San Francisco compared to the U.S. overall. The weekly share of weekday lunch changed from 24% to 19. Happy hour shares changed from 6 to 6. Weekend shares changed from 28 to 34.
Data: Square; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

San Francisco's restaurant spending is shifting from weekday lunch hours to the weekends, reflecting changes driven by the pandemic and the shift to remote work, new data shows.

What they're saying: "Before COVID, consumers were going out more during the week to eat lunch by their office and grab drinks after work," Square Research lead Ara Kharazian said in a report this week.

  • Now, "weekend traffic is at its peak."

By the numbers: The share of weekday lunch restaurant transactions in San Francisco fell from 24% in 2019 to 19% in 2023, based on data released this month from food and drink establishments using Square.

  • By contrast, the share of weekend lunch transactions grew from 28% in 2019 to 34% last year.

Zoom out: Nationally, the share of weekday lunch transactions fell from about 21% in 2019 to 18% in 2023.

  • The weekend's share grew from about 30% in 2019 to 35% in 2023.

How it works: Square, which makes payments processing tech, defines the "weekday lunch" period as 11am-2pm, the "weekend" as all day Saturday and Sunday, and "happy hour" as weekdays between 4-6pm.

What to watch: A major change is coming to San Francisco restaurants on July 1, when a new law is set to go into effect that will prohibit them from adding a surcharge to help them cover city-mandated health care coverage for employees.

  • The state's justice department maintains that the law is designed to make sure consumers know what they're going to pay, while some restaurant owners argue it'll result in pay cuts for employees and higher menu prices for diners, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
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