P.F. Chang’s Joins Restaurants Wooing Deal Seekers With Happy Hours

With restaurants crunched both by labor and food price challenges, P.F. Chang’s has become the latest restaurant to launch a happy hour deal to draw in deals-motivated consumers while shifting diners’ spending towards off-peak times.

The casual dining chain, which has more than 300 restaurants internationally, announced Monday (July 17) the launch of a happy hour menu with $8 cocktails and appetizers from 3-6 p.m. on weekdays.

“We’re excited to launch our unique Lucky 8 Happy Hour and offer exclusive giveaways as a thank you for all the moments that have been shared at our table over the years,” the restaurant’s CEO Damola Adamolekun said in a statement.

The move comes as consumers’ price anxieties prompt them to visit restaurants less often throughout this inflationary period. A PYMNTS survey of more than 2,300 U.S. restaurant customers last November, revealed that roughly a third of consumers have been making purchases from restaurants less frequently amid rising prices.

In fact, a handful of restaurant chains have been introducing happy hour deals in a similar effort to boost sales at off-peak times and to combat declining traffic among price-concerned diners. Last month, Carrabba’s Italian Grill announced a happy hour cocktails and charcuterie special. In the fall, Chili’s introduced a happy hour menu available whenever football was on.

Additionally, non-alcohol-selling restaurant brands are also tapping the happy hour model to provide discounts at off hours. Café chain The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf recently announced a happy hour drink menu starting at 3 p.m., and Tim Hortons is trying out a digital happy hour this summer, offering a buy one, get one 50% off deal on online orders from 2-5 p.m.

Indeed, with rising restaurant prices, consumers are more interested in deals than in years past. Data from the study “Connected Dining: Consumers Like the Taste of Discount Meals,” revealed that discount redemption on restaurant meals jumped 86% from March 2022 to February 2023. That is, the share of consumers who reported having used a discount on their most recent purchase from a restaurant rose from 14% to 26% in that time.

Since the time of the survey, restaurant inflation rates have only continued to rise relative to overall food inflation, and as such, it seems likely that discount redemption is even higher today. Consumer Price Index (CPI) data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed restaurant prices up 7.7% year over year, well over the 5.7% inflation rate for food overall.

As prices have risen, so has discount availability. In an interview with PYMNTS, Scott Deviney, CEO of fast-casual chain to Chicken Salad Chick, explained that he has seen a rapid shift across the industry from raising prices to offering deals.

“We were all hit by inflation,” he said. “No one was immune from it. So, we were all taking price, and I don’t think anybody could take price quickly enough. When you fast forward to today, the price increases have eroded some transactions, which they always do. I think what you’re seeing now is the knee-jerk the other way of discounting, to try to make up for the lost transactions.”