There is an easy logic behind the third Monday in January being the most depressing day of the year, despite the underpinning research coming under question. It was Dr Cliff Arnall who identified that the combination of dreary weather, bills due, time elapsed since Christmas and failing New Year’s resolutions that culminated in a ‘Blue Monday’. For hard pressed eating out operators, they could be forgiven for thinking of the whole of January as something of an unwelcome ‘Blue Month’, given the prevailing weakness in consumer visit frequency and spending, as householders look to hunker down and rebuild depleted finances.

Advice to consumers to help beat the blues includes keeping active and eating and drinking well. Meanwhile advice to eating out operators typically includes driving footfall through promotional activity.

JD Wetherspoon is again running its January sale, with chief executive John Hutson in part justifying it with the comment: “Department stores hold their sales in January, so it is the perfect time to have a sale in our pubs too.” More topical is the point that the range of drinks on sale covers a wide variety of tastes and includes their biggest selection of low to no alcohol drinks.

Another January sale devotee is Yo! Apparently, this year’s is better than ever and includes a third off all coloured plates. The sale runs all month, however there are some important T&Cs in the footnotes, such as how the offers do not apply at the weekends, and do not include the most expensive yellow plates.

Within pubs, and possibly reflecting the size and influence of Wetherspoon, there is clear evidence of promotional adoption being considerably higher in January than in any other month, when looking at the consumer take-up of promotions. By comparison, the evidence of a January peak is less compelling in chain restaurants, where we see the same-old year-round style offers, such as 25% off food at Zizzi, 30% off at Pizza Express and 40% off mains at Café Rouge and Bella Italia.

After the relative joyfulness and indulgence of the festive season it is almost inevitable there are going to be depressed consumers and operators in January. Skilful marketing and promotional activity certainly have mitigating roles to play, but perhaps so too does the merits of the coping advice about having New Year plans to look forward to and build upon. Tapping into new experiences has to be a win-win and potentially a good idea, though personally, I am far from convinced these need to include doing dry January. Happy New Year – however, you intend coping.