Fast Food Breakfasts Fizzle With Consumers Eating at Home
Prior to the pandemic, fast food restaurant operators were innovating with new, on-the-go breakfast menu items to drive sales as consumer demand was increasing. However, breakfast sales at many fast food locations dropped drastically when initial lockdowns took place in March and April 2020 and more consumers began working and attending school at home. McDonald’s, which launched all-day breakfasts in 2015, began limiting its menu for all-day items during the start of the pandemic in March 2020.
The Wall Street Journal reports on the current fast food breakfast situation in its article Fast Food’s Bet on Breakfast Goes Bust During Covid-19 Pandemic and notes:
“Breakfast-dependent chains including Dine Brands Global Inc.’s, IHOP and Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc are closing hundreds of restaurants. McDonald’s Corp. and Restaurant Brands International Inc.’s Burger King have said sales of breakfast items remain weak. … The trouble at breakfast is one of the most significant problems for a fast-food industry designed to cater to consumers on the go. With Covid-19 cases climbing again across much of the U.S., many consumers are likely to keep eating breakfast at home—and they are finding plenty of options.”
Hartman Group research finds that consumer eating routines and behaviors have witnessed unprecedented disruption due to COVID-19, and both eating occasion context and needs during breakfast are currently at odds with sourcing from fast food. Today, 87% of breakfast occasions take place at home, up from 82% at this time last year, as more consumers work and go to school from home during the pandemic (based on analysis of Hartman’s Eating Occasions Compass Summer 2020 data vs. Summer 2019 data). Eating needs related to fresh, less processed, moderation and positive nutrition have also increased during breakfast occasions as consumers look to proactively support their health and immunity with food and beverage choices.
With many consumers pledging to eat and live healthier after the pandemic subsides, the coming years are likely to see continued reexamination of eating habits that will shape choices both at home and at food service.
Report: COVID-19’s Impact on Eating