Restaurant chains that were well positioned to provide customers with off-premises service via drive-thru, delivery and/or takeout were the clear winners in a year that otherwise saw mostly devastating losses throughout the industry.
Pizza-delivery specialists such as Domino’s (up 11% in sales) enjoyed a windfall by shuttling their pies to homebound consumers, as did brands that offered drive-thru service and foods that traveled well, such as fried chicken from Popeyes (up 20%) and Wingstop (up 21%).
Limited-service restaurants for the most part outperformed full-service, but some quick-service chains that were either unable to pivot quickly to off-premises service or were heavily focused on providing lunch to students and office workers, such as Subway (sales down 8.2%), did not keep pace with the quick-service industry overall. Likewise, Dunkin’ (down 7.2%) and Starbucks (down 5%) also likely suffered from the decline in commuter breakfast pit-stops, as a result of the transition to remote work and schooling.
Overall, full-service restaurants suffered under the weight of mandated restrictions on in-person dining, with sales down between 8% for sports bar/restaurants and 22.1% for the full-service American restaurant segment. These restaurants also likely felt the impact of the decline in business travel and entertainment.
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