There has been a lot of pessimism surrounding the restaurant industry over the past couple of years. Reports of closure of food seals, supply chain issues impactful menus, and the endless labor shortage have dominated the news cycle since the onset of the pandemic we’re so sick of talking about. Yet people need to eat, and not everyone is able or willing to prepare three meals a day at home. The silver lining of the ubiquitous storm clouds? Fast food restaurants are booming.
Specifically, Yum Brands, the parent company of beloved chains Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut (when will we have a hybrid that combines all three, when?!), broke a fast food record in 2021. Insider reports that Yum opened 4,180 new restaurants last year, which translates to a new spot popping up every two hours. And the sales of these three main chains increased by approximately 10% each compared to last year. Outside of Yum, McDonald’s, Starbucks and Chipotle also opened a combined total of nearly 3,000 new stores in 2021.
Why some restaurants are doing well, despite the pandemicI
So what matters fWhere this success when it seems like so much else is falling apart in the industry? In terms of pure economics, more and more chains are eliminating value menus, slowly increasing the prices of popular items, and introducing more limited time offers at higher prices. For example, Taco Bell saw its profits rise significantly in 2020 when the Grilled Cheese Burrito dropped, a strategy it again retired more recently with its one-week-only program. chicken wings.
Yet there are unanswered questions. Yes, it proves that people will never give up their fast food habits. But can these habits sustain the continued rise in prices and the potential overcrowding of new locations? Not to mention, who is hired to work in these new locations? While many existing chains are already struggling to maintain a cohesive workforce, it only seems like a matter of time before these newer venues face a similar problem.
For now, however, let’s take this as a ray of hope and keep an eye on whether this trend in fast food restaurants trickles down to mom and pop stores that are still in desperate need of support. The next time you feel like dining out, skip the drive-thru and go for something local – sounds like Taco Bell will do just fine.
What have your fast food habits been over the past year? Have you noticed any new channels in your neighborhood? Let us know in the comments.