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Is Pumpkin Flavored Everything Profitable?

Today is the Autumnal equinox, the official start of fall in the northern hemisphere. For the past few days in New Jersey, we’ve seen the indicators of the end of summer, with low humidity, falling leaves and crisp nights replacing the balmy, hot weather we’ve experienced the past few months. But with fall comes the inevitable onslaught of pumpkin-flavored, well, everything.

Yes, it’s true: pumpkin season is upon us, with all of its trappings and spiced scents. Retailers and foodservice operators already started marketing and selling beverages, pastries and everything else with the flavor, but it begs the question: is this seasonally-induced pumpkin overload even profitable?

Luckily, the NPD Group was asking the same question about seasonal beverages. Foodservice operators report that the addition of a seasonal beverage can spur additional purchases by established customers and help bring in new business by drawing customers away from competitors.

Pumpkin spice latte buyers often attribute the purchase as “indulgent,” and the vast majority of purchasers only bought one. Nearly 20% of pumpkin spice latte purchasers bought the item twice, with only 8% buying three or more during the period.

An added benefit of pumpkin spiced drinks is higher checks, according to NPD. The average check for a pumpkin latte buyer was $7.81, compared with $6.67 for non-buyers during the fall and winter of 2014. Customers were more likely to purchase food items in addition the beverage, spiking the average check up.