Fast-Food Cravings Still Strong in U.S.

Feb. 11, 2022
Americans are hungrier than ever for fast food, judging by the expansion efforts and plans of the world’s largest fast-food chains.

Americans are hungrier than ever for fast food, judging by the expansion efforts and plans of the world’s largest fast-food chains.

Yum Brands, the parent of Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut, broke a record for the quick-service restaurant (QSR) sector with the 4,180 new restaurants it opened in 2021.

"This speaks to the health of our business, iconic brands, capable, committed and well-capitalized franchise partners and strong unit economics," CEO David Gibbs told investors in remarks quoted in Business Insider.

The expansion is buoyed by solid sales. Same-store sales in 2021 were up 11% for both KFC and Taco Bell and 7% for Pizza Hut over 2020. It happened even though Yum restaurants, like many others, were forced to raise menu prices due to inflation.

Other QSR chains have aggressive expansion plans. Starbucks added close to 1,200 new stores last year and plans to open 2,000 more in 2022; McDonald’s plans 1,800 new stores this year, and Chipotle estimates that it could potentially run up to 7,000 more outlets in North America.

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