A barista makes coffee for a customer in Houston, Texas, U.S., March 10, 2021.
A barista makes coffee for a customer in Houston, Texas, U.S., March 10, 2021. Reuters / Callaghan O'Hare

Coffee shop sales in the United States have not fully recovered from a deep slump early in the COVID-19 pandemic, because most customers are still working from home for at least a third of their work time, a research publication from the Bank of America Institute showed on Thursday.

The report compared remote working data with transactions at coffee shops in the country that is the world's largest consumer of the beverage and showed sales volumes at those stores have plateaued after the post-lockdowns rebound and remained below pre-pandemic levels.

"The logic is simple: people tend to grab a coffee during their morning commute and at other times during the day when working in the office. If they are working from home their demand for coffee shop products will likely decline," said the publication.

The global coffee market saw a decrease in demand during the pandemic due to the closure of coffee shops. Around a third of coffee consumption in mature markets happens out-of-home, according to industry data.

The publication cites data from the Survey of Working Arrangements and Attitudes (SWAA) to say that as recently as June there was still a persistent level of working from home, around a third of all paid work days.

"While they may substitute demand for coffee close to the office with demand for coffee close to home somewhat, on balance they are less likely to go out for coffee if they can get some at home," said the publication, adding that the increased prevalence of remote work continues to have implications for the economy even as the pandemic fades.

There was a rush to coffee buying at groceries at the start of the pandemic, but that faded over time. There is also less waste at home than at coffee shops, another reason home consumption leads to lower overall demand for coffee.