The nation’s largest chain restaurants took a hit last year, according to a new report from management consulting firm Technomic.
Unsurprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic was the primary reason for the losses as consumers shifted their eating patterns and consumed more meals at home. But the degree of the losses was varied with some chains — namely McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A and Domino’s — all achieving positive sales figures.
“Disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Top 500 chain restaurants saw sales fall by $27 billion in 2020, decreasing by more than 8% compared to 2019,” explains Kevin Schimpf, senior research manager at Technomic. “As many small chains and independent restaurants struggled to simply stay in business over the last year, market share for the industry’s largest chains expanded significantly.”
According to a release accompanying the report, location closures among the 500 largest chains were “relatively minimal,” shrinking the overall footprint by just 2%. Chicken chains including Wingstop, Popeyes, and Raising Cane’s all experienced strong years; the report said sales growth for chicken chains “hit double digits.”
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The findings — focused on a smaller group of establishments — show a smaller sales loss than a December survey from the National Restaurant Association Research Group, which reported a 36% drop in sales revenue among 87% of its full-service restaurants, which included independent, chain, and franchise establishments.
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