‘Save a bit of cash’: Aussies increasingly forgoing pre-work habit

New data has shown more Australians are ditching takeaway coffee before work as hybrid work arrangements and the high cost of living change consumer habits.

Transaction data from digital payments platform Square, reports Caretakershows that food and drink purchases between 7am and 11am on weekdays fell below pre-pandemic levels in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

At the same time, transaction volumes increased during the weekend brunch period, indicating a change in how Australians prioritize their spending.

According to an analysis of millions of cafes and restaurants by Square, breakfast transactions fell by more than five per cent during the week in Melbourne, but increased by four per cent on Saturdays and Sundays.

A similar situation exists in Sydney, albeit to a lesser extent; transaction volume decreases by 2.4 percent for weekday breakfasts, but increases by 1.6 percent during weekends.

“We’re doing less during the week now,” Michel Dubois, owner of Melbourne creperies and cafés Roule Galette and Croque Monsieur, told the publication.

“But if you come on a Saturday, there’s a queue before we even open. People say they don’t buy as much during the week because of the cost of living, but they still want something nice at the weekend.”

Square’s head of business development in Australia, Colin Birney, said Caretaker that bars that cater to professional workers are trying to adapt – starting an evening service to take advantage of the after-work economy, deciding to close an extra day or selling groceries and other goods as a way to boost revenue.

More employees are working from home and preparing lunch when they go to the office, and “it seems to be happening as the demand for weekday breakfasts is decreasing”, Mr Birney said. “We’re often told that making breakfast at home or having cereal at the office is one of the easiest ways to save some money.”

Last month, a report by CommBank iQ, a joint venture between the Commonwealth Bank and data firm Quantum Group, found Australians had reduced their overall spending at cafes and casual dining restaurants over the past 12 months, while fast food purchases had increased.

Barry Urquhart, head of research at Marketing Focus, who has been studying how consumer coffee habits are changing as the public tightens their budgets, told the ABC in May that while many people still go to their local coffee shop for their morning meal, they are turning towards to cheaper alternatives such as instant coffee as the day goes on.

“When you ask someone about their coffee consumption and they want to limit it, they don’t reduce their cup size, change store, brand, or turn to cheaper options like gas stations or fast food restaurants,” Mr. said Urquhart.

“They say, ‘No, it’s still important to me to have a good brand of coffee that I enjoy, made by a barista I know and trust’.

“All these experiences are there, but they are diminishing to the point where supermarkets are now declaring that instant coffee brands are booming.”

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