Happy hour, happy life.
Happy hours are great. They make people come together and share a drink, maybe some laughs, and always some fun. But if you’re looking for statistics on happy hours, well… it’s not so easy to find what you need.
There are plenty of lists that talk about the best happy hour spots in town or which bars have the most popular happy hours, but not many that tell you the preferences of people that visit during those happy hours. And even fewer still list how much more money restaurants and bars make by offering happy hour deals.
That’s why we put together this list of happy hour statistics—so you can impress your friends, settle bets with coworkers, and prove that you really do know everything about everything.
With our list of stats, you’ll know exactly what your audience wants: information about how often they go out drinking and where they go, who they enjoy spending time with during happy hour, and how much they spend at one time.
Happy Hour Statistics (Editor’s Picks)
- In the US, adults usually spend 2.5 hours at a happy hour.
- 20% of American happy hour goers state that nothing will stop them from joining attending happy hour.
- The ideal day for American adults to hit the bars after work is Tuesday.
- Workplace happy hour sessions increase employee happiness by 66%.
- Bars with happy hours have higher revenue and transactions than bars without.
- Millennial employees are most likely to attend office happy hours than any other generation.
- Men are more likely to attend after-work happy hour events than women.
- 46% of all adult employees have never attended a workplace happy hour session.
- 55% of Americans participated in virtual happy hour.
- The average duration of a virtual happy hour with coworkers is 35 minutes.
- Americans spend an average of $68.99 during happy hour.
How Many American Adults Attend Happy Hours?
1. In the US, adults usually spend 2.5 hours at a happy hour.
Adults usually spend anywhere from an hour up to an entire night at any given happy hour, but the average is 2.5 hours. Certainly, one hour of happy hour is not enough for the average American happy hour goer.
2. 38% of American adults think that happy hour should last an average of three hours.
In this study, 2,000 Americans aged over 21 participated, and they clearly don’t think that just one hour of happy hour is enough. They think that happy hour should last at least three hours for them to fully enjoy it.
People are excited to be social again after being cooped up at home for the rest of 2020. As a result, 70% of American adults want to make up for time lost during lockdowns amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
3. Two out of three American adults are more likely to go to a happy hour during warm weather.
That said, it only makes sense that 36% of survey respondents believe that happy hour should last longer in the summer. While two out of three (65%) American adults want to go to happy during the summer, 21% are sure that the cold weather prevents them from participating.
4. 20% of American happy hour goers state that nothing will stop them from joining attending happy hour.
While 21% of American happy hour goers say that cold weather will stop them from going, 20% say that nothing can really stop them.
People use alcohol to destress, which is probably why when asked what can stop them from destressing during happy hour, nothing, in particular, comes to mind.
5. The ideal day for American adults to hit the bars after work is Tuesday.
Next to Tuesday, Friday is another preferred day of the week for American adults to participate in happy hour. When looking at the percentages, 18% of American happy hour goers prefer to participate in a happy hour on Tuesday, while 17% prefer Fridays.
However, in 2018, a Nielsen survey previously reported that Wednesdays are the ideal day for American adults to attend happy hour, generating 23.9% more sales than Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.
6. 63% of happy hour goers state that they prefer to try new things during happy hour.
Additionally, 40% of American happy hour goers look for a refreshing drink at pre-game or during happy hour, and 40% prefer beverages that are easy to drink.
It’s only natural for us to want to try something new to add to our portfolio of things we’ve tried and to gain new experiences.
7. On any given day, happy hour goers prefer to start between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.
Regardless of what day happy hour goers prefer to attend, there’s one thing they can agree on; it’s that happy hour should begin anytime from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.
During weekends, 24% of respondents agree to this time, while 23% agree to this time during weekdays. Workers usually attend happy hour after work, and this time is when employees typically get off work.
8. Good food prices is the top reason why US consumers participate in happy hours at bars and restaurants.
63% of US consumers state that their reason for attending happy hour at bars and restaurants is because food is cheaper. An additional 60% state that it’s because drinks are cheaper.
Moreover, 45% come to relax, 39% want to catch up with friends, and 29% think it’s less expensive than going out to dinner.
9. 70% of Massachusetts residents want to bring happy hour back.
In 1984, Massachusetts became the first US state to ban happy hour when a 20-year-old woman died in a car accident after attending happy hour. In addition to the happy hour ban, the drinking age was also raised to 21 years old.
However, nowadays, a majority of Massachusetts residents, otherwise known as Bay Staters, want to bring happy hour back. A total of 1,453 Bay Staters were surveyed, and 38% strongly favor bringing happy hour back, 32% are only partially in favor, and 20% are against it.
Statistics Showing Happy Hour Benefits
10. Workplace happy hour sessions increase employee happiness by 66%.
89% percent of Millennial workers state that being happy at their job is a top reason for them to stay, and 66% report that workplace benefits like food and beer keep them happy and engaged.
Workplace happy hour sessions are a great way to provide additional compensation to your employees outside of salaries, but you should also provide non-alcoholic refreshment options for employees who are abstaining from alcohol.
11. Bars report a 26% increase in revenue during happy hour.
(Nation’s Restaurant News)
Additionally, regardless of whether the bar has a happy hour program or not, transactions and revenue reach their peak from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. This is something bars should look into when hiring staff or determining the ideal time for a happy hour.
12. Bars that have happy hour programs see transactions increase by an average of 24%.
(Nation’s Restaurant News)
Bars with a happy hour program generate more transactions and revenue than those without it. It’s very clear in the statistics gathered by the POS provider Cake when they compared 400 bars with and without a happy hour program.
13. Smaller bars with happy hour generate a higher revenue than bigger bars without happy hour.
(Nation’s Restaurant News)
If you think smaller bars with a happy hour program generate less revenue than bigger non-happy hour bars, think again.
Statistics show that bars without happy hours that typically generate a 10% higher overall revenue were outperformed by smaller bars with happy hours during happy hour.
In particular, the smaller bars earned 20% more during happy hour.
Office Happy Hour Demographics
14. Millennial employees are most likely to attend office happy hours than any other generation.
As the American workfoce gets younger, the social landscape in companies is drastically changing. For example, 62% of Millennial employees have attended an office happy hour at least once compared to only 52% of all adult employees.
Additionally, 52% of Gen X employees and only 39% of Baby Boomer employees have attended a company happy hour session at least once.
15. 46% of all adult employees have never attended a workplace happy hour session.
By generation, Baby Boomer employees have the highest percentage who have never attended an office happy hour, with 61% of them saying so. Next, 46% of Gen X employees share the same sentiment. Lastly, only 33% of Millennial employees can relate to this statement.
16. Men are more likely to attend after-work happy hour events than women.
Among the employees who state that they attend happy hour events often, sometimes, or always, 33% are men compared to only 22% of women. Men have always had a preference to drinking as a form of social event compared to women.
17. 45% of those who attend office happy hours want to get to know their coworkers more.
Employees attend happy hour sessions mainly because they want to be more social. In fact, nearly half of those who attend happy hour sessions do so to get to know their colleagues more, and a third state that they just want to relax with work buddies.
While it’s only a small percentage, some happy hour goers attend these sessions for reasons outside of being social. For example, 26% attend because they want to expand their professional network, and 23% say they’re only there for the cheap drinks and food.
18. Millennials and Gen X employees are more likely to attend a happy hour because they don’t want to go home after work.
14% of employees belonging to these two generations attend happy hours because they hate going home straight after work compared to only 5% of those who are older.
On the other hand, 44% of those who don’t attend say that they want to go home right after work, and 24% state that they dislike spending time with their colleagues.
19. Employees aged 55 and older are more likely to judge someone negatively for being too drunk at a happy hour.
When drinks are cheap and limitless, it’s not unusual for someone to get drunk.
When Millennial employees see their colleagues getting drunk, only 19% would pass negative judgement. On the other hand, the percentage of Baby Boomer employees negatively judging a drunk colleague is much higher, at 50%.
44% percent of Millennials even report thinking positively of a person who’s drunk at a happy hour, with 49% of them believing that the drunk person is easier to talk to.
Virtual Happy Hour Statistics During COVID-19
20. 55% of Americans participated in virtual happy hour.
Despite the lockdowns implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, happy hour goers still found a way to get together, even if it’s just virtual. Virtual happy hour sessions were a way to destress amid the global uncertainty brought about by the pandemic.
Additionally, 41% reported drinking more during quarantine. Moreover, 35% socialized more with work colleagues during quarantine, and 54% socialized more with friends. That was a time when we needed all the emotional support we could get, so socializing with people we care about really helped.
21. The average duration of a virtual happy hour with coworkers is 35 minutes.
Virtual happy hour sessions during the quarantine were a little longer if they were with friends: approximately 55 minutes.
Although the happy hour tradition was kept alive despite the quarantine, it’s quite clear that it’s still not as long as during pre-COVID, when people stayed an average of 2.5 hours at happy hour.
That’s because there’s nothing quite like participating in happy hour in person. There’s only so much time you can spend staring at a screen.
22. Americans prefer six people attending a virtual happy hour or party.
When asked about the most amount of participants in a virtual happy hour or party, 5%% of American happy hour goers responded that it’s less than 10, 20% said it was 10 to 14, 15% reported it being 15 to 24, and only 10% said there were more than 25 participants.
People often complain that it’s hard to navigate in digital hangouts where there are too many people, and many responded that the ideal number of people that should be present should be limited to six.
51% of Americans responded that they like socializing on Zoom. The second most favorite app to socialize on is FaceTime, with 38% of respondents preferring to socialize on this app. Next in line are Skype (32%), Facebook Messenger (30%), Google Hangouts (20%), and Microsoft Teams (9%).
The reason why Zoom is a top favorite is that it’s easy to use, and you don’t need an account to enjoy free calls. The main problem is the lack of security causes a phenomenon called “zoombombing,” where people join random Zoom calls and show offensive stuff to the members of the call.
24. By industry, finance has the highest percentage of employees who attended a virtual happy hour session.
75% of employees in the finance industry have attended virtual happy hour sessions. Additionally, 72% of engineering employees have attended these sessions. Next in line are employees in the IT (70%), manufacturing (69%), human resources (63%), and marketing and advertising industries (59%).
25. One in three virtual happy hour attendees doesn’t turn on their video.
Forty-two percent of virtual happy hour attendees are self-conscious about their work colleagues seeing their homes, and that’s the main reason why one in three attendees don’t turn on video.
On the other hand, one in five use custom backgrounds to have a better backdrop. The most widely used custom backgrounds include beach, natural landscape, memes, and earth.
26. 39% of virtual happy hour goers want to continue with these sessions after COVID-19 ends.
Following the decline in new COVID-19 cases, companies are now welcoming their employees as they call for them to return to offices in the coming months. Although the response from employees is divided, it seems that virtual happy hour sessions will be more permanent than initially expected.
27. Only 22% of virtual happy hour attendees dress differently for virtual parties.
The remaining 78% don’t really dress up when attending virtual happy hour sessions. That’s probably also because a good percentage of attendees don’t really show their faces during the call.
It’s also quite entertaining to see that even if others dress up, only the top portion of their outfit is dressed up since it’s the only part that people can see.
Average Happy Hour Spending
28. Americans spend an average of $68.99 during happy hour.
Happy hour is a great tradition that employees use to destress, but it doesn’t come with a hefty price.
With cocktails, drinks, appetizers, and small plates of food, the average happy hour spending in the US reaches $68.99. The highest revenue is seen between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. when foot traffic is also at its highest.
29. With an average happy hour cost of $50.38, New York City has the highest spending by city in the US.
The average cost of a cocktail in New York City, New York is a whopping $17 per glass, while the average appetizer is sold at an average of $13.31. With this information, it’s no wonder that New York City has the highest average happy hour spending by city.
Next to New York, the cities with the highest average spending are San Francisco, California ($44.83), Seattle, Washington ($43.68), San Jose, California ($43.31), and Miami, Florida ($41.33).
30. With an average happy hour spending of $26.76, San Antonio, Texas has the least spending by city in the US.
The average cost of two drinks in San Antonio, Texas is $11.27, while the cost of half of an appetizer is an average of $4.01.
Next to San Antonio, the least expensive cities for happy hour in the US are Indianapolis, Indiana ($29.36), Cleveland, Ohio ($30.47), Memphis, Tennessee ($30.52), and Richmond, Virginia ($30.56).
If you look closely, there aren’t any west coast areas in the least expensive ranking. That’s because the cost of living in the west is much higher than in most US cities.
31. Restaurants and bars earn an estimated 60% of their weekly sales from happy hours.
Happy hour is beneficial for both bars and restaurants and happy hour goers. Restaurants earn a significant percentage of their sales from this tradition, while happy hour goers enjoy a couple of hours to destress and catch up with friends.
Related Questions (FAQ)
What is the purpose of a happy hour?
For bars and restaurants, a happy hour program helps them bring in new customers and increase their revenue. For consumers, attending happy hours is a great way to destress after a long day of work. True to its namesake, a happy hour is aimed at making people happy.
Who has the longest happy hour?
In 2018, TGI Fridays launched the longest happy hour in the United States. The Fridays Five Menu featured a variety of $5 wine, beer, and cocktails, along with $5 appetizers that included sliders, warm pretzels, and wings.
How did happy hour get its name?
Although the exact origin of the term is not known, it can be dated back to the 1920s after World War 1. The term was an American Naval slang, referring to periods on naval ships when sailors would participate in relaxing activities to find relief from their life at sea.
Why is happy hour illegal in Massachusetts?
Happy hours were banned in Massachusetts in 1984 after local tragedies happened from drunk driving that resulted from happy hours. Then-Governor Michael Dukakis signed a law prohibiting bars and restaurants from having happy hour programs, which also occurred amid a national campaign against drunk driving.
Does California have happy hour?
It is legal for restaurants and bars in California to have a happy hour program. Happy hour is only illegal in eight states in the United States: Alaska, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Utah, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Indiana, and Vermont. These states have banned happy hour to lessen drunk driving.
Well, that was a long article. We’ve gone over some interesting statistics about happy hour and what guests enjoy the most.
As we’ve seen, happy hour can be a great time to relax and unwind with friends. However, it’s also a great time to spend money, as cocktails and food specials tend to be affordable.
So what does all this mean for your business? Well, now you know where your target market is spending their time and money – so next time you decide to host a happy hour or run a promotion, make sure to take advantage of what’s working for other businesses in your niche.
Hopefully, this article has given you some ideas for your next happy hour promotion. Remember to keep things fun and exciting for your guests by offering unique drinks and food items that they cannot find anywhere else!