Halloween proves a treat for bar operations

Even when the holiday falls midweek, local places see a big upswing in business, new research shows.
Photograph: Shutterstock

Never mind ghosts and the undead. The spirits likely to rise this Halloween are the emotions of restaurant bars and taverns.

New research shows the traditional celebration of goblins and all things eerie can be one of the busier midweek nights of the year for neighborhood drinking establishments. Last year, when Halloween fell on a Wednesday, traffic jumped by an average of 25%, and sales soared by a mean of 17%, according to software company Womply.

This year, Halloween falls on a Thursday.

The data, based on the sales of 3,000 local bars, shows a typical neighborhood watering hole collected $678 in sales on Oct. 31, 2018. The 17% bump in revenue came from traffic; the average tab slipped 6%, to $22.67, suggesting costumed patrons are more likely to order a PBR than a fancy smoking cocktail.

Wednesday is usually the third slowest night of the week, according to Womply. With the addition of Halloween, Oct. 31 became the third biggest Wednesday of 2018, behind July 4 and the day before Thanksgiving, known to some as Drinksgiving.

Even with the boost from reveling patrons dressed as Dracula or Bernie Sanders, midweek Halloween sales still fell behind the 2018 daily average of $800 for local bars, the study found.

But it noted that the big payoff for local bars can come the weekend before or after Halloween. The last weekend in October delivered the biggest sales night of the year for bars in New York City, and the second biggest for Salt Lake City, according to the data.

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