Wendy’s and Denny’s Find Success with Breakfast and Late Night

Both chains saw year-over-year increases in these dayparts, pushing quarterly visit growth.

April 30, 2024

Restaurants continue to face challenges due to rising costs, but Placer.ai noted that there are promising signs that the industry may be headed for an upturn. Increasingly, chains are leaning into breakfast and late-night offerings to “maximize revenue and foster customer loyalty,” the foot traffic research company noted.

Wendy’s and Denny’s, restaurants that have very different offerings in the breakfast space, saw similar results, implying an overall consumer trend toward these times.

After dipping in January, Placer.ai stated that year-over-year visits to both Wendy’s and Denny’s picked up in February and March 2024. On a quarterly basis, both companies came out ahead with year-over-year visits up 0.7% and 1.0% respectively.

Data showed that visits to Wendy’s during the morning daypart (between 6 a.m. and 11 a.m.) jumped 9.3% in Q1 2024 compared to Q1 2023. The nighttime daypart—which the burger giant began advertising in 2023 for the first time in four years—also saw a year-over-year boost, Placer.ai reported. Meanwhile, Wendy’s lunch and dinner time slots held steady, with just minor quarterly visit gaps, indicating that the chain’s overall year-over-year visit growth in Q1 was driven by its breakfast and nighttime push.  

Denny’s gets most of its visits in the morning and early afternoon. In Q1 2024, however, it was the late-night daypart that saw the most growth year-over-year in visits. Placer.ai noted that this increase was perhaps driven in part by the restaurant’s push to increase the number of locations open in those late night and early morning hours.

The restaurant’s busiest time slot, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., also experienced a year-over-year visit increase.

At the NACS SOI Summit, David Portalatin, senior vice president and industry advisor of food and foodservice at Circana stated that traditional eating habits have been rearranged, with new eat occasions forming.

In a year-over-year daypart trends compared to 2019, c-store traffic is down 7.5%. QSRs, Portalatin said, are moving into spaces where c-stores have traditionally dominated, including late night snacking.

For more on disrupted dayparts and the NACS SOI Summit, check out the upcoming June issue of NACS Magazine. The NACS State of the Industry Report® of 2023 Data will be available for purchase in mid-June at convenience.org/store.