Fast-food is on fire, but not Burger King or Subway.
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Nobody does it better… or bigger
America (land of the free, home of the shakes) is the fast-food capital of the world. Of the 25 largest fast-food chains globally, 22 come from the United States, with every single one of the top 17 being American-owned.
Convenient, usually cheap, and always delicious, fast food is a familiar favorite for many — and it’s become even more familiar in the last year. Indeed, with groceries getting more expensive than ever before, sales at many of the largest chains have soared.
In the last 12 months, the net profits for 6 of the largest public fast-food chains in the country have totaled nearly $16bn, over 30% higher than the group achieved at the same point in 2019.
So, which fast-food outlets are thriving? A new report from QSR ranking the top 50 chains in America reveals some of the fastest-growing chains in the country. In terms of raw restaurant unit count, it’s hard to beat the ever-omnipresent Starbucks — which, yes, according to QSR, is actually considered fast food — after the company added 429 stores in the last year, more than any other chain.
But, adjusting for its relative size, no chain has grown faster than Crumbl Cookies, which opened an astonishing 363 new units, adding a whopping 53% to its store count in a single year: not bad for a company founded in 2017 that relies on the humble cookie to pay its bills. Chicken lovers are also increasingly spoilt for choice, as chains like Wingstop, Popeyes and Chick-fil-A continue to expand — adding more than 500 units between the 3 of them in the last year. And if that still doesn’t whet your appetite, there’s also been room for both Taco Bell and Chipotle to keep expanding as well.
Burger King, KFC and Panera Bread all reported modest net store closures — but it’s Subway that's slimming down most, shrinking its footlong footprint with some 571 store closures in the last year per QSR, as the company continues to explore a sale. Although this fresh upheaval saw 6x more closures than any other chain, it still leaves Subway with the largest store count in the country, with sandwich artists serving up subs at more than 20,000 locations nationwide.