Fast-food sales were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, along with all other restaurants in the country. They also face the kind of rolling closures as the Delta variant flairs from state to state. At least they have perfected pick-up delivery and, in some cases, use home delivery services like Grubhub. However, for chains like McDonald’s, the business will never be entirely the same.
Among the innovations among fast-food chains is “order ahead” delivery, which will survive the pandemic. People also will be able to order electronically in stores, without talking to someone behind the counter. The fast-food industry needs this kind of “robotics.” Across America, workers have regularly turned down the opportunity to work at jobs with low hourly wages.
The recovery of the industry has been uneven, particularly when looked at state to state. TOP Data used GPS data to look at traffic to the 20 largest fast-food chains, which it divides into four categories: burgers, Mexican, fried chicken and pizza. The categories create a false distinction because some burger fast-food companies also sell chicken sandwiches (McDonald’s is a case in point).
The information was based on millions of fast-food visits from January to April in 2020 and the same months in 2021. Among the major conclusions was this: “Our team found that fast-food restaurants are well on their way to recovery, with visits up 33.06% Nationwide since the beginning of 2021.”
The greatest recovery was among burger chains, which were up 54% between the periods. Mexican restaurants were next at 32%, followed by fried chicken outlets at 30%. Pizzas outlets were last at 16%. However, this does not take into account the traditional order-out aspect of the retail pizza business.
Among all chains measured, the biggest increase was a Sonic, up 102%, followed by McDonald’s at 59% and KFC at 49%.
The spread among states was huge. Traffic to fast-food locations in Vermont rose 83%, by far the greatest across all states. It was followed distantly by New Hampshire at 59%. Idaho was at the bottom of the state list, up only 22%.
These are the 10 states where fast-food chain visits are rising fastest:
- Vermont (83%)
- New Hampshire (59%)
- Illinois (58%)
- Michigan (53%)
- Massachusetts (52%)
- Pennsylvania (52%)
- Arkansas (51%)
- West Virginia (50%)
- Minnesota (49%)
- California (49%)
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