How The Pandemic Has Affected Fast Food Chain Growth


By Felix Behr, Mashed

April 6, 2021


Over the past year of pandemic coverage, news has been divided: The restaurant industry, as a whole, has barely kept its head above water, but a few brands have thrived. That picture of sharp contrasts was Restaurant Business' summation of Technomic's 2021 Chain Restaurant Report. Sales for the largest chains as a whole have dropped, but that overview belies the few that have done well for themselves during the turmoil.


While McDonald's has maintained its dominance, Chick-fil-A, Domino's, and Chipotle have shown the most growth in sales among the biggest brands, with respective increases of 13 percent, 17.6 percent, and 6.5 percent. Wendy's, too, has grown, albeit by 4.8 percent. However, that small increase has seen them overtake the flagging Burger King to become the second most successful burger chain.


The overall decrease in sales for the industry, then, can be attributed to fast-casual restaurants, none of which made it to the top 20 brands, and the precipitous decline in sales of Subway and Starbucks, losing 18.5 percent and 13.5 percent, respectively.


Really, these sales numbers can be read as which restaurants were ready for pandemic conditions or pivoted... 


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