Burger King’s U.S. same-store sales are flat as fast-food customers return

A Burger King sign outside a restaurant in Glendale, California.

Robyn Beck | AFP | Getty Images

Burger King’s U.S. same-store sales are trending flat as customers return to its locations for Whoppers and french fries. 

The Restaurant Brands International chain saw its same-store sales plunge by the mid-30s in March as the coronavirus pandemic led consumers to stay home and cook. But now, even with many of its North American dining rooms closed or offering only reduced seating, Burger King is seeing customers come back and order through its drive-thru lanes. It also recently launched nationwide a meatless breakfast sandwich made with the Impossible Sausage.

The burger chain’s sales trend echoes those of the broader fast-food segment, which has been quicker to recover from the pandemic than the overall restaurant industry. Fast-food chains’ transactions fell just 13% in the week ended June 7 compared with the year-ago period, according to the NPD Group. 

Burger King’s sister chain, Popeyes, has seen its soaring same-store sales growth recede slightly. In the third week of May, its U.S. same-store sales increased by more than 40%. But as the chain starts the lap its strongest results of the prior year before the national launch of its popular chicken sandwich, U.S. same-store sales rose by just the “very high 20s” last week. In mid-June, Popeyes began testing the sandwich in Canada. 

Canadian coffee chain Tim Hortons, the third chain in Restaurant Brands’ portfolio, saw same-store sales declines in the negative high teens as of last week. In the third full week of May, its same-store sales shrank by mid-20s. About 90% of its locations are open in Canada.

Shares of parent company Restaurant Brands were up less than 1% in early trading Monday.

Restaurant Brands does not include locations that are closed for a “significant portion of a month” in its same-store sales calculations. “Nearly all” of its U.S. locations for Popeyes and Burger King are open, but other markets, like Latin America, have seen more widespread closures.

CEO Jose Cil also said that the company will repay all outstanding amounts under its revolving credit facility this week, citing its steady business improvements and strong financial position. Restaurant Brands drew down its $1 billion revolver in late March “out of an abundance of caution.”

The company is scheduled to report its full second-quarter results in early August.

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