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KFC Owner Admits Chain Is 'Struggling' After Major Sales Declines

KFC is one of several major fast-food chains that have seen their popularity take a hit in 2024.

From McDonald's to Starbucks, some of America's most popular restaurant chains have seen their popularity take a major hit in 2024 as diners cut back on visits. And according to newly released data, KFC is among the brands losing favor among customers this year.

The chicken chain thrived in China last quarter as its same-store sales jumped by 8%, according to new earnings results published on May 1. However, KFC's performance in the United States during the quarter was a very different story. Same-store sales at KFC's American restaurants declined by 7%, indicating that the chain is struggling to bring in as much business as it has in the past.

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"The KFC brand in the U.S. has been struggling," David Gibbs, CEO of KFC parent company Yum Brands, said during an earnings call this week.

KFC's same-store sales dropped 2% worldwide last quarter even though it opened more than 500 new restaurants across 43 countries. Executives blamed the declines on a couple of factors.

For one, "difficult weather events" in the United States in January negatively impacted sales as more consumers stayed home, Gibbs said. After reporting a rare drop in sales and customer traffic this week, Starbucks attributed some of its struggles to the January weather as well.

KfC fried chicken order
SIN1980 / Shutterstock

Gibbs said that fierce competition and "value promotions" from other quick-service chicken chains also played a role in KFC's disappointing quarterly earnings. KFC has been losing favor for years as many customers have opted to visit rival chicken restaurants instead.

Chick-fil-A, for example, surpassed KFC about a decade ago as the biggest chicken chain in terms of market share (the percentage of total sales in an industry that goes to one company), according to CNBC. Boosted by its blockbuster chicken sandwich (700 calories) and other popular new menu innovations, Popeyes also surpassed KFC in terms of market share last year.

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Gibbs said that work is underway to "boldly reset" the KFC brand in the United States. Yum Brands wants to use what it has learned from its successful KFC business outside of the United States to improve its fortunes domestically.

"We know how to bring that brand to life to connect with consumers around the world, and we have to do a better job of that in the U.S.," Gibbs said.

Yum's other restaurant brands—Pizza Hut, The Habit Burger Grill, and Taco Bell—saw mixed results last quarter. Pizza Hut and Habit reported same-store sales declines of 7% and 8%, respectively. Taco Bell was the only Yum chain to report a boost in same-store sales (1%).

Zoe Strozewski
Zoe Strozewski is a News Writer for Eat This, Not That! A Chicago native who now lives in New Jersey, she graduated from Kean University in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Read more about Zoe
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