People Are Loving Fast Food Again Because the Economy Sucks

The fast food industry is back in business.

After years of mass boycott based on the (fully accurate) public perception that it serves well-marketed poison, people are apparently returning to the original fast food giants.

With no shortage of healthier, less processed fast food options available – like Chipotle and Panera Bread – sales plummeted at the original go-to burger and fries places we all love to hate.

I’m talking about McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King, of course.

But that’s now changing.

McDonald’s US same-store sales increased by 5.4 per cent in the first quarter; Burger King’s same-store sales grew 4.4 per cent and Wendy’s rose 3.7 per cent.

It isn’t just the big chains that have experienced a growth in traffic, either. Overall, same-store sales at traditional fast-food chains grew 2.7 per cent in the first quarter of the year, whereas fast-casual chains (i.e. Chipotle) grew just 0.3 per cent over the same time period.


What’s the reason for this? Well, it’s not rocket science. People are getting tired of dishing out $15-$20 for a meal that’s supposed to be “fast.” According to Business Insider, the return to good, old-fashioned fast food is mostly driven by the industry’s cheap prices and an uncertain economy.

In an uneasy economy, the first thing to cut back on is lavish dining (even if “lavish” means Panera Breads).

McDonald’s, Wendy’s, KFC and Burger King have all dished up highly discounted combo meals and free-food offers to generate traffic in recent years.

Such deal-based traffic to fast-food restaurants increased 3 per cent in the first quarter. Promotions were responsible for more than 25 per cent of fast-food restaurants’ sales in the quarter, and roughly 35 per cent of sales at fast-food burger chains.

Big fast-food chains have also won back former customers with the addition of healthier menu items.

What’s that they say about every two steps forward? Here’s to hoping obesity rates don’t correlate.