5 Fast-Food Burger Chains Customers Are Flocking To
America's appetite for burgers has been growing larger and more sophisticated for decades. From tasty quarter-pounders and freshly made singles to beefy "better burger" creations with all the fixings, people love to indulge their cravings.
And even though many popular burger chains continue to recover from the ongoing pandemic, other chains are showing strong gains in both sales, traffic, and overall popularity as borne out by the latest earnings figures and other stats from five popular burger chains.
As the largest fast-food chain in the world with more than 37,000 locations in 115 countries, McDonald's is hard to beat.
The latest stats from the Golden Arches show that the burger behemoth's sales rose 11% to $5.67 billion, beating expectations of $5.59 billion. Its global same-store sales climbed 11.8% in the first quarter of this year, fueled by strong growth in markets such as France and the United Kingdom.
Digital systemwide sales, which include curbside delivery, app-based, and online orders, a key part of the company's "Accelerating the Arches" growth strategy, also soared to $5 billion in the period.
In a statement, McDonald's President and Chief Executive Officer, Chris Kempczinski, said "In a quarter that saw an increasingly complex and uncertain operating environment, I am proud to share that once again the Arches have shone brightly." He added that in most of the company's major markets, the burger giant "sustained QSR (quick-service restaurant) traffic share gains by focusing on elevating our brand, accelerating digital channels and showcasing our core equities of chicken and beef."
In short, McDonald's continues to be a worldwide leader and key destination for lovers of burgers, fries, and all things fast food.
The latest earnings report from Ohio-based Wendy's would make its late founder, Dave Thomas, proud.
The company, which boasts 7,000 restaurants worldwide, reported one of its best quarters in history this year as global same-restaurant sales were up double digits and the company increased its global digital sales mix to more than 10%, according to an earnings release.
The chain also reported historic unit growth, with more than 90 new restaurant openings, which has the company poised to reach a planned net unit growth goal of 5% to 6% in 2022.
"We continue to make meaningful progress against our three strategic growth pillars, reinforcing the strength and resiliency of the Wendy's brand and driving robust AUV (average unit volume) and sales increases," said President and CEO Todd Penegor in an earnings call.
He added that the company is confident it can achieve its vision of "becoming the world's most thriving and beloved restaurant brand."
As a leader in the fast-casual "better burger" category, BurgerFi reported strong earnings growth in the first quarter of this year, increasing by 311% to $44.9 million compared to $10.9 million in the first quarter last year.
The company also says it opened six new BurgerFi locations in the quarter, helping it to meet a growth target of adding 15 to 20 new locations in 2022. Systemwide sales for BurgerFi also increased 2% to $40.5 million as compared to $39.8 million in the prior-year period.
"In the first quarter we built a solid foundation for growth for 2022," said Ian Baines, CEO of BurgerFi, in a release. "We saw a 20% growth in BurgerFi corporate restaurant sales driven by new store openings in the last year while we continued to retain a significant portion of our digital sales."
Founded in 2011, the chain currently operates 124 restaurants. As a competitor to Shake Shack, it prides itself on using quality ingredients such as additive-free Angus beef, Wagyu beef, hand-cut fries, and custard shakes.
Shake Shack is a favorite among burger connoisseurs, thanks to its high-quality Angus beef burgers and hand-made shakes. The chain reported total revenue of $203.4 million in the first quarter of 2022, up by 31% compared to the same time period in 2021. System-wide sales were also up by 35.6%.
The company also opened seven new locations during the quarter, including two drive-thru locations in Livonia, Mich., and Vineland Pointe, Fla. It also announced its first restaurant in Nanjing, China.
"We are proud of how our team members navigated through the pressures faced in January and February from a sharp increase in COVID case counts. Our stronger March results highlight that we continue to recover sales and operating profit," said Randy Garutti, the chain's CEO.
Garutti added that the company remains committed to strategic initiatives, investing in digital transformation and "evolving our Shacks with new formats like drive-thrus, and delivering an amazing guest experience."
Founded in New York City in 2004, the company continues to build on its cult-like appeal and strong growth with more than 380 locations in 32 states, including more than 100 international locations.
Wisconsin-based Culver's doesn't release its quarterly earnings but has consistently been named one of America's most popular regional burger chains, beloved for its hometown hospitality, burgers, ice cream, and even coffee. In 2020, the chain's earnings came close to $2 billion.
Culver's currently has more than 800 locations across 25 states and is ranked #2 in sales growth among the 10 largest burger chains in the U.S., according to Technomic's Top 500 Chain Restaurant Report. It has also been named a top franchise value, as well as a favorite chain among millennials by Restaurant Business.
Moreover, the chain landed fifth place in USA Today's annual best regional fast food list.
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