Rumor has it, April showers bring May flowers. But for those of us who run restaurants – not flower shops – this idiom raises more questions than it answers.

Do April showers bring in bedraggled customers looking for hot tea? Do May flowers bring even more customers, excited to stop and smell both the roses and the soup? How does the weather impact your restaurant’s sales?

Research tells us that weather can have a big impact on restaurant sales. For instance, National Restaurant Association research finds that more than 90% of restaurant operators indicate that the weather affects their sales.

Especially in spring – when we can expect up to four seasons in just one day, depending on where in the country we live – it’s important to be ready for anything, whatever the whether. Here’s how to make the most of every kind of spring weather.

 

Rain Delays

One study found that rain has a negative impact on restaurant sales – up to a point. When it starts to rain, sales immediately drop off. However, when it’s been raining for long enough, restaurant sales level off.

They’re lower than usual, but they stay at a low constant. The people who are only leaving their homes or offices to visit your restaurant are probably choosing to stay in, while those who were out and about anyway have chosen to stop in and take a break from the unpleasant weather.

One great way to capitalize on rainy spring days is with hot beverage specials. Whether you serve tea, cider, or Irish coffee, you can offer a special on one of these traditionally high-margin items to draw in more guests who might otherwise be avoiding the weather.

 

Rise (in Prices) & Shine

A 2010 study found that exposure to sunlight dramatically increased consumers’ willingness to spend. This impacts every area of spending – not just restaurants. For example, these subjects were willing to spend 37% more for green tea, and 56% more for gym membership after exposure to sunlight.

Many retailers mimic this effect with lighting, especially in big box stores and department stores. You might consider incorporating large windows or mood lighting into your restaurant to increase your guests’ exposure to sunlight, encouraging them to spend more at any time of year.

 

Holistic View

While the weather can have a big impact on consumer spending, it’s important for restaurant operators and marketing execs to take a look at the whole picture. We’ve already discussed how sunlight makes people more willing to spend – but around November, a snowfall can get them into the holiday spirit, and increase spending during inclement weather. Make sure you’re looking at the big picture and creating specials that are appropriate for both the weather and the season.

Another new season gives your restaurant another chance to renew your menu and your style to draw in more customers. With weather-based information and a robust menu your restaurant can be a refuge from whatever’s going on outside, and gain more customers in the process.