Laptop Ban Issued By Bakery, Should More Restaurants Follow Suit?

A laptop ban issued by a bakery has resulted in a sales increase, the owners claim.

August First, a cafe in Vermont operated by Jodi Whalen and Phil Merrick, decided that it didn’t want to be “one of those places” with the same few clients who camped out all day behind a laptop computer.

Finding that these “laptop patrons” spent more time and less money at their establishment, they decided to issue a policy that would force out this rather bulky form of technology.

And now they’re saying the plan worked.

“We simply can’t survive as a business with so many people using their laptops here,” Whalen explained in comments to The Guardian, adding that the laptop ban resulted in 20 percent year-over-year sales growth in the early months, and now hovers around 10 percent, both an improvement from the company’s pre-ban average of 5 percent.

According to the August First owners, the average customer spends $15 and less than an hour at a table, while Wi-Fi squatters spend $5 an hour and stay in one place for around four hours.

Doing the hard math, that means August First could make $60 in four hours, or it could make $20 in the same amount of time. At that rate, it’s pretty much a no-brainer.

Still, while this sounds good on paper, there is the factor of brand loyalty that one has to consider. When you have someone spending $20 every single day that you’re open, you don’t want to alienate that customer.

But that’s not what Whalen and Merrick say is happening.

Whalen added that new rules always have a tendency to upset the apple-cart, but in this case, most people they’ve had to call on the carpet respond with a polite “Oh, OK.”

As for the global brand Starbucks, this is something the coffee shop has looked in to, going so far as to cover up some outlets in an attempt to keep the freelancers at bay.

Still, Starbucks isn’t going all-in, as ABC News notes that they’ve recently instituted charging stations, so customers can not only bring in their tech, but give it a much-needed drink while enjoying a Pumpkin Spice Latte.

A possible compromise would be to institute time limits during busy times of the day. Panera Bread has been known to lock out Wi-Fi users after about 30 minutes if they’re using it during prime lunch and dinner hours.

What do you think, readers? Should more coffee shop and bakery businesses move to a permanent laptop ban?

[Image via ShutterStock]