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Burger King struggles to keep up with McDonald’s and KFC in third quarter sales recovery

Mathieu Geuskens published on November 16, 2020

The major QSR chains have managed to largely recover sales to previous year’s level in the third quarter of 2020, after restrictive government measures caused substantial sales declines between March and June. Interestingly, the degree of sales recovery starts to deviate among chains, with Burger King struggling and McDonald’s outperforming its peers both in the US and abroad. The company has published a growth plan for the coming years, which suggest that McDonald’s expects the effects of COVID-19 to be long-lasting.

The above-average drive-through penetration, off-premise capabilities and an increased average check size have significantly benefited McDonald’s in the third quarter, with global sales down 2% compared to previous years level. Burger King is unable to achieve the same level of recovery, realizing global sales that were 8% lower than previous year’s level. The difference is partly driven by the fact that McDonald’s manages to realize 4.6% growth in the home-market, whilst Burger King is still unable to reach the 2019 sales level in Q3. 

McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC have all managed to (partially) reopen virtually all locations, but show a continued focus on expanding the off-premise capabilities of their restaurants. KFC’s parent company Yum! Brands reports that it’s digital sales accounted for 30% of total sales in 2020Q3, a 33% increase compared to previous year. Meanwhile, McDonald’s has published a growth plan for 2021 and 2022 that highlights the chain’s focus on the 3 D’s: Digital, Delivery and Drive-through. This suggests that the company is expecting the change in consumer behavior and limited capacity of dining rooms will continue to impact the QSR sector for a longer period of time than previously expected. 

With government regulations tightening in hopes of containing a second wave of infections, understanding the most recent sales trends and drivers is crucial in estimating future impact on the market and businesses. Download A-INSIGHTS' QSR 2020Q3 and future market updates, including regional trends and company specific developments in the third quarter of 2020 here.

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Mathieu Geuskens

Senior Analyst Food & Agri /