Though some analysts are warning of a looming restaurant recession, traffic to fast-food and fast-casual restaurants seems to be holding steady for now. Insights firm Sense360 tracked more than two million restaurant visits in June and July, compiling the data into a report that examines the most-visited fast-casual and fast-food chains in July. (The results are limited in that they only track where users of certain apps are going, but they serve as a fairly strong sample of the general population overall.)
The results were fairly unsurprising — is it any wonder that McDonald’s came out on top? — though there are some interesting takeaways. The golden arches, for instance, not only continues to top lists of most-trafficked chains, but it tends to blow away the competition.
According to the report, McDonald’s held 17.6 percent of quick-service traffic in June — more than double that of both Subway (at 7.2 percent) and Starbucks (at 6.9 percent). It seems that the Big Mac slinger is on target to thoroughly slay its competition in 2016 sales, just as it did last year.
Below, a look at the top ten most frequently-visited “fast” chains in July:
Sense360 CEO Eli Portnoy says his company, which builds location services for apps, studied 6.4 million quick-service visits in July. When compared to the June data, the Top 10 list is almost identical, save for numbers nine and 10. In June, Chipotle came in at number 11. But, thanks to the July launch of its new loyalty program, it upped its traffic last month. (Another recent study of foot traffic at chains appears to back this up.)
Chick-fil-A is one of the more interesting chains to be in the top ten. As Portnoy notes, many chains tend to do better regionally (Starbucks, for instance, is actually more popular than McDonald’s in Los Angeles) but the chicken chain pleases just about everyone. In fact, it bested rival KFC’s traffic by nearly a full percentage point (which is actually a lot, in terms of foot traffic) and it’s only open six days a week.
Chick-fil-A saw an even larger share of foot traffic on July 12, when it held its Cow Appreciation Day (dress as a cow get a free entree). “We saw a massive bump that day— their share of the quick-service market went from three percent to four percent,” says Portnoy. Put another way, sales were about 33 percent higher than on a typical Tuesday.
As for whether Portnoy has noticed in decline in restaurant traffic — or another signs of a restaurant recession to come — he says no. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. “From a total market share perspective, we have not seen a decline,” he says. “But we also haven't seen an increase in people dining out.”