The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated trends in fast food, giving franchises that stayed open a new leg up over their dine-in competition.
Why it matters: Social distancing was a seismic event for customer behavior, prompting rapid changes from some American classics.
The big picture: Drive-through and advance ordering have higher margins for restaurants, with a side benefit of luring more customers, the WSJ reports.
- "Franchisees can reduce labor costs by operating stores without the usual dine-in service."
- "While urban locations are suffering, suburban stores with drive-through service are seeing a massive increase in demand."
- "Starbucks is planning to build more locations in urban areas designed specifically for takeout and advance ordering."
Efficiency plays a big role...
- Chains are reducing menu options, closing dining rooms and offering better deals.
- McDonald’s has cut 25 seconds off its average drive-through wait time, its CEO said last week.
Between the lines: This is also a moment when other food chains, including grocery stores, are looking to chip away at the power of delivery services.
- Kroger and Albertsons are among the grocers that are willing to do the shopping for customers, with no fees for pickup.
The bottom line: Necessity and competition have spurred a solid 5 years or more of innovation in about 4 months.