Fast-food restaurants in the USA cash in and steal market share.

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McDonald’s Corp (MCD.N) said that its first-quarter U.S. comparable sales increased 13.6 % and that it had 40 million active app users in its six biggest markets. Half of which were in the United States, as it aims to draw even more consumers through a loyalty programme to introduce nationwide this year.

Yum Brands Inc (YUM.N), the parent company of Taco Bell and KFC, intends to use technology acquisitions in the fourth quarter to drive both social media ordering and artificial intelligence marketing.
Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc (CMG.N) said last week that it still plans to open 200 new restaurants this year, with 70 % of them featuring automated drive-thru lanes.

According to previously unreleased data from The NPD Group, fast-food chains dominated the restaurant industry in the 12 months ending in March, accounting for 70.2 % of dollars spent dining out and 82.9 % of total restaurant traffic.

Drive-thrus, freshly fried chicken sandwiches, and “family dinner” offers drew customers away from competing restaurants.

According to NPD data, Americans spent nearly $281.6 billion on fast food in the fiscal year ending in March, gaining 7.1 % of market share by dollars that full-service restaurants lost.

According to NPD analyst David Portalatin, fast food “will be the bright spot in the restaurant room for a long time to come,” who noted that fast food was gaining market share even before the pandemic.

To be sure, Bloomin’ Brands Inc, which announced Thursday that it expects to increase the number of sit-down Outback Steakhouse locations from 750 to 1,000, increased digital ordering by 147% year on year.

However, several independent restaurants were unable to scale up digital operations as quickly.
According to the National Restaurant Association, 110,000 restaurants will close permanently by 2020.

Seating areas at several fast-food restaurants remain closed.

“With 90 % or more of our business coming through the drive-thru if we can maintain that and restore our dining rooms and takeaway to pre-pandemic levels. We’ve set ourselves up for a powerful run here,” said Joe Erlinger, head of McDonald’s U.S. operations, on a conference call with analysts Thursday.

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