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Surviving Winter: US Coffee Shop Owner Survey Finds Financial Worry, Adaptability

coffee shop owner survey

More than half (57%) of coffee shop owners and managers participating in a U.S. nationwide survey expressed worry that they will not be able to maintain enough revenue to survive the upcoming late fall and winter months.

Despite the grim financial sentiment, coffee shop operators also reported a strong willingness to adapt new COVID-19 safety measures such as digital ordering technology and social-distancing arrangements to maintain the safety of staff and employees.

The survey was conducted by Daily Coffee News in partnership with Seattle-based Joe Coffee, the contactless ordering and marketing platform for independent coffee retailers. Seventy (70) coffee shop owners or managers completed the online survey on coffee shop operations and COVID-19 in mid-October. [Note: Joe Coffee has been a DCN advertising partner, although this survey was conducted independent of any advertising relationship.]

On the whole, the responses show ways in which coffee shop operators have dramatically revamped operations to improve staff and customer safety, though many fear that revenue may be harder to come by due to losses of outdoor seating as colder weather moves in throughout the country.

Following are some of survey’s key findings:

Business Health

  • When asked, “What is the size of your operation, the results were:
    • 1 shop: 56%
    • 2-5 shops: 29%
    • 6-10 shops: 10%
    • 11+ shops: 4%
  • 65% of respondents have experienced negative revenue impacts since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • 28% of respondents said revenue has been down by more than 50% since the start of the pandemic
  • 20% of respondents said revenue has been slightly up (12%) or “about the same” (8%) since the pandemic
  • 57% of respondents are worried about being able to maintain enough revenue to continue operating through the fall and winter
  • 63% of respondents expect to experience negative revenue impacts this holiday season (November/December) versus the same time last year
  • 17% of respondents said they expect to earn about the same or more revenue during the November/December period
  • 55% of respondents say the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected their ability to build community in their neighborhoods
  • 60% are worried about being able to attract customers in the fall/winter months


  • 68% of respondents are introducing technology that reduces contact
  • 55% of respondents have adapted their menu for faster service and/or take-out operations
  • 67% of respondents currently use a contactless/mobile point of service technology
  • 55% of respondents began using a contactless/mobile point of service technology in response to COVID-19 restrictions
  • Technologies currently in use in respondents’ coffee shops include:
    • Web-based or online ordering (68%)
    • A tablet-based payment system (75%)
    • Third-party marketing/loyalty programs (20%)
    • Delivery (22%)
    • Social media (89%)

Safety, Spacing and Physical Measures

  • 77% of respondents are worried about the safety of their employees
  • 68% of respondents are worried about the safety of their customers
  • 56% of respondents are worried about losing outdoor seating/capacity
  • 44% of respondents do not have outdoor seating as available option during the winter months
  • 87% of respondents are providing hand sanitizer to guests
  • 81% of respondents are providing PPE to staff
  • 70% of respondents are maintaining physical barriers between staff and guests
  • 93% of respondents are requiring masks for all staff
  • 84% of respondents are requiring masks for all customers
  • 75% of respondents have reduced indoor capacity
  • 48% of respondents have increased spacing of indoor tables
  • 74% have introduced instructional signage for social distancing
  • 38% of respondents have attempted to improve ventilation/airflow in indoor areas


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