As with many industries, there are typically certain months or seasons where you may see an increase or decrease in business traffic. A store like Target or Walmart will see big upticks in business during the holiday season. A ski rental shop will have plenty more customers in the winter than in the summer. What about restaurants and sports bars? Surely, the holiday season is a popular time for many industries and it’s the same for the dining industry. Sports bars, however, rely heavily on certain sporting seasons and teams to help attract new customers. It can be dependent on what part of the country you are in and what sports teams you have in proximity to you, but many use these teams to engage and interact with their customers.
This should come to no surprise, but the National Football League is far and away the most popular sport watched in the US. According to Gallup, 37% of Americans declare football as their favorite sport. “The NFL also has the highest average attendance (67,591) of any sports league in the world!” (Statscore). Not only do people watch the most football games, but they attend the most football games in person as well. This is something that sports bars and restaurants try to thrive off of. Baseball and basketball are the next most popular sports with 9% of Americans saying baseball is their favorite sport and 11% saying basketball is their favorite. Soccer is becoming more and more popular throughout the country with 7% of Americans declaring the world wide sport their favorite.
Many of these numbers are to be expected. No sport has, or will compete with football viewership and fandom in the US anytime soon. Sure soccer and other sports may be on the rise, but as Americans we absolutely love football. Sunday’s have turned into the most popular days for many bars during the football season. “The Super Bowl Sunday, when the final game of a season is held, has, in fact, become a sort of an unofficial holiday. Almost everyone celebrates that day, even if they are not interested in football. In 2014, a record 167 million people watch the game! Super Sunday even has its own traditions when it comes to food – about 1.25 billion chicken wings, and 8 million pounds of guacamole are consumed that day”. Not only does this show the viewership numbers for the Super Bowl, but it highlights the tradition that so many people follow throughout the entire season and not just Super Bowl Sunday - Wings and football. Add in some beer and 15 TV’s all with different games on, and you have yourself a packed sports bar on a Sunday afternoon.
Bars and restaurants have seen this trend for decades now, and it has allowed them to promote certain deals, promotions and other events they may have set up during football season. Football does a good job of sort of selling itself to the customers, but it’s still up to bars and restaurants to acquire their customers and be able to engage them in ways that other places might not be doing. It’s all about creating that customer loyalty that is talked about so often.
On the flip side you could look at the football season and realize that you might not have much difficulty filling your bar on a sunday afternoon. A good way to stand out from other competition is to find ways to acquire new customers during other seasons like basketball, baseball or soccer. We are beginning to see more and more soccer loyal bars throughout the country. However you don’t see as many baseball and basketball specific businesses. This could be a good niche to look at and find new ways to attract these baseball fans and other fans from sports that might not see as much viewership and interaction. Football is only played once a week which allows for a build-up throughout the week for people to get excited and come cheer on their favorite team. Most other sports are playing multiple games a week, and even 6-7 games if you look at the baseball schedule. Finding ways to attract customers during those weekday games is a big way bars can stand out and experiment with new ideas, games and weekly events. It’s the same with any industry - there’s going to be plenty of businesses, or in this case bars and restaurants, that provide similar offerings and benefits as their competitors. By finding new, innovative ways to engage your customers and keep them loyal to your business it will give you a chance to get a leg up on your competitors.