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Fast Food Industry Earnings Hit by Home Dining; QSRs Explore Strategies to Win Back Customers

Consumers are eating at home to cut down on their expenditures affecting sales of restaurants.
Cover Image Source: Unsplash|Photo by Pablo Merchán Montes
Cover Image Source: Unsplash|Photo by Pablo Merchán Montes

The quick service restaurants are facing a tough time as is clear from the latest quarterly updates announced by companies like Yum! Brands, Starbucks, and McDonald’s. Yum Brands the parent company owning brands that include KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell said that in the first quarter of the year, the sales in their stores had gone down by 3%. The company’s CEO David Gibbs expected it to happen due to multiple factors which included normal inflation, and loss of demand in some regions due to several factors such as conflict in the Middle East. As consumers are looking to get more value for each dollar they spend, the QSR brands are in a challenging situation ahead.

Declining numbers for restaurant chains

Yum! Brands-owned Pizza Hut saw a decline of 7% in sales. It was accompanied by a fall of 2% in sales for KFC. CFO Chris Turner mentioned that the first quarter was challenging but they are optimistic for the future. The past quarter seems to be picky for other quick-service restaurant brands, too. Starbucks, the famed coffee chain, reported a drop in sales by 4%. The year seems to be testing the waters for Starbucks as its shares have fallen by 22%.

Mcdonald's, the brand known to appeal to consumers looking for more value from fewer bucks is facing the heat too as its sales went up only by 1.9% as compared to a 12.3% increase in 2023’s first quarter. McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski talked about how customers are critical of each note they are spending to buy something. Chris said, “Consumers continue to be even more discriminating with every dollar that they spend as they [face] elevated prices in their day-to-day spending, which is putting pressure on the QSR industry." He further added, “It is worth noting the Q1 industry traffic was flat to declining in the U.S., Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, and the U.K. And across almost all major markets, industry traffic is slowing.”

Consumers want to save money

Due to current economic changes, consumers are reluctant to spend more and are trying to save money by eating food at home. As the prices for food items at restaurants have been increasing due to rising prices of commodities and supply chains, customers feel that it is better to stay away from restaurants to keep their bank balance healthy. The US Consumer Confidence index has been falling since February, and even saw a decline in April, indicating that the US consumers are pessimistic about their financial situation.

Of the consumers surveyed, 44.8% said that they would prefer to eat food at home to cut down on their expenditures. And it’s not just people with lower income section are cutting down on spending, consumers across the nation are showing the same behavior.