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Sales at This Major Chicken Chain Continue to Decline

As its famous chicken sandwich faces increasingly tougher competition.

Sales are booming at Restaurant Brands International (RBI), but its chicken brand Popeyes has seen another sales decline at the end of 2021, as the popularity of its chicken sandwich continues to wane from peak fame in 2019 and 2020.

The company just released its fourth-quarter earnings this morning, which show that same-store sales at the chicken chain were down by 0.4% worldwide and 1.8% in the United States. Popeyes is still coming down from the major sales bump caused by the release of its chicken sandwich in late 2019. Since then, it has been facing tough comparisons to its own performance. This continues the chain's downward trend also observed in the previous quarter, when sales were down by 2.4%.

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Additionally, Popeyes is still facing staffing shortages felt across the restaurant industry—an issue that shuttered dining rooms at about 40% of the chain's locations in the summer of 2021.

"Ongoing labor challenges led to reduced operating hours and service modes, impacting comparable sales by roughly 1%," said Jose Cil, CEO of Restaurant Brands. "In addition, chicken sandwich volumes remain pressured by competitors, which as you may recall, started making their sandwich debuts in early 2021."

On the other hand, RBI's two other major brands, Burger King and Tim Hortons, have seen their sales grow. The burger brand was up by 11.3% in same-store sales, with the same metric up by 1.8% in the U.S., once again showing that its biggest performance struggles are still taking place in the home market.

In December, Burger King announced it will be making some cuts to its menu in order to simplify operations and speed up service at its drive-thrus. According to executives, some of those cuts have already taken place in December with little effect on the chain's sales.

Tim Hortons same-store sales were up by 10.3%, fueled by the chain's menu collaboration with Justin Bieber. According to executives, the Timbiebs, which came in three exclusive flavors, were one of the most successful promotions in the chain's recent history.

Mura Dominko
Mura is a Deputy Editor leading ETNT's coverage of America's favorite fast foods and restaurant chains. Read more