Thanks for Visiting!

Register for free to get the full story.

Sign Up
Already have a Placer.ai account? Log In

Catching Up With Shake Shack and Wingstop

by 
Lila Margalit
 on 
February 8, 2024
Catching Up With Shake Shack and Wingstop

The past couple of years have been challenging ones for the dining industry as high food prices and economic headwinds led many consumers to cut back on unnecessary indulgences. Still, people can’t eat at home all the time, and there’s always demand for restaurants that serve up good food and a welcoming ambiance – without breaking the bank.

So with Q4 2023 under our belts, we dove into the data to check in with two dining chains that are especially good at giving customers what they want: Shake Shack and Wingstop. How did they perform during the final quarter of 2023? And what lies ahead for them in the new year?

Leaving Dining in the Dust

Shake Shack, curiously named after an amusement park ride from 70’s hit movie Grease, continues to impress. Following a robust third quarter, the gourmet burger joint maintained strong positive year-over-year (YoY) visit growth throughout Q4 2023 – finishing out the year with a remarkable 24.3% foot traffic jump in December 2023. 

Wingstop, another darling of the dining industry, also ended 2023 with a bang. Whether celebrating the New York Knicks with a special lemon garlic flavor, or jumping on the dry January bandwagon with its own “dry rub January”, the popular chicken restaurant draws crowds by staying up-to-date with popular trends. And throughout Q4 2023, Wingstop saw positive visit growth ranging from 12.8% to 16.3%. 

Shake Shack Shakes Things Up

The ongoing success of these two chains in a difficult overall environment shows that there’s more than one way to win at the dining game. With limited-time offerings like White Truffle Burgers, and sandwiches that feature Kimchi slaw, Shake Shack’s relatively upscale offerings have traditionally drawn affluent audiences. But as the chain has continued to expand, its customer base has diversified – with the median household income (HHI) of its captured market dropping by 8.6% over the past four years. Over the same period, the share of ultra-wealthy families and educated urbanites in the restaurant’s captured market declined, while the share of young professionals and urban low income consumers increased. Wider audiences, of course, means broader appeal – and more people getting addicted to Shake Shack’s delicious offerings.

Wingstop: Dinner for the Whole Gang

Wingstop, for its part, has pursued a somewhat different strategy. Positioned as an affordable eatery straddling the space between fast food and fast-casual, Wingstop draws less well-to-do consumers. Combining foot traffic data with demographics from STI’s PopStats shows that the median HHI of Wingstop’s captured market came in at $62.1K in Q4 2023, well below the nationwide baseline of $69.5K. 

But despite targeting a demographic with less discretionary income, Wingstop has carved out a niche for itself as a to-go dining destination for people seeking the perfect place to sit down to a nice, big meal with the family. In Wingstop’s four biggest markets – Texas, California, Florida, and Illinois – the chain’s trade areas featured more persons per household than the statewide averages in Q4 2023. And Wingstop’s captured markets were also over-indexed for families with children – showing that parents are particularly likely to pay the restaurant a visit.

Key Takeaways

Though food prices have stabilized and consumer confidence has begun to recover, last year ended on a tough note for restaurants. But while the category as a whole has yet to fully regain its footing, chains like Shake Shack and Wingstop are finding success by leaning into evolving consumer demand.

Will cooling inflation kickstart a dining revival? And what does the rest of 2024 have in store for Shake Shack and Wingstop? 

Follow Placer.ai to find out.

Get 3 brand & industry
breakdowns every week

Subscribe to the newsletter

Great! Prepare your inbox for data-driven insights...
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Get a Demo

Please enter your first name
Please enter your last name
Please provide a valid email
Please enter your email
Please enter company name

Thanks for reaching out!

One of our experts will be in touch soon

Try Placer.ai Free
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Text Link
Shake Shack
Text Link
Wingstop
Limited Time Offers: Price Wars Boost Visits
Placer 100 Index for Retail & Dining: June 2024 Recap
Placer.ai Mall Index: June 2024 Recap
Placer.ai Office Index: June 2024 Recap
Inside Out 2: The New Blockbuster Bringing Crowds Back to Theaters
Petco and PetSmart: A Head to Head
Frozen Delights: Exploring Ice Cream Chains Across America
Placer.ai White Paper Recap – June 2024
Barnes & Noble: Writing a New Story
Small Format Stores - Sprouting, Blooming, and Expanding
Retail and Dining on Father’s Day
Thrift Store Visit Scores
Charting Value Grocery’s Visit Growth
Placer 100 Index for Retail & Dining: Introduction and May 2024 Recap
Digging Into Darden: Q2 2024 Update
2024 Retail and Dining Trends Update
TRU and avid: Midscale Hotels on the Rise 
Diving Into Kroger: A Strong Start to 2024
Placer.ai Mall Index: May 2024 Recap – Mall Visits on the Rebound
Placer.ai Office Index: May 2024 Recap
2024 Memorial Day Recap
Las Vegas: A Tourism and Migration Deep Dive
Eatertainment Chains: Full on Food, Fun, and Foot Traffic
The Promise of Luxury Apparel
Catching Up With Ulta Beauty & Gap Brands
Ollie’s Bargain Outlet and Five Below: Q1 2024 Treasure Troves
CAVA Still Going Strong
Driving Success: Auto Parts Chains in 2024
Checking in With DICK’S Sporting Goods
Mother’s Day Shopping and Dining Trends
Placer.ai Mall Index: April 2024 Recap – Retail Resilience Heading into Spring
Dollar Stores Still Gaining Momentum
Off-Price Apparel Chains After Q1 2024: Demographics in the Balance
Walmart, Target, and Wholesale Clubs Continue to Thrive
Home Improvement and Decor Check In
Placer.ai Office Index: April 2024 Recap – Recovery Continues
Movie Theaters in Q1 2024: A Preview of Coming Attractions?
Let’s Get Physical: Fitness In 2024
Where Are Workers Returning to Office in 2024?
2024 Wins: Sweetgreen & First Watch on the Rise
A Full-Service Turnaround: Bloomin’, Dine, and Texas Roadhouse
Wendy’s and Denny’s: Breakfast and Late Night Dining Drives Success
Coffee Chains: Q1 2024 Update and What’s Changed Since COVID
Checking in with RBI and YUM!
Chipotle & McDonald's Serving Up Success
Wingstop & Shake Shack Continue Growing Their Reach 
Strong Start for Sprouts in 2024
Crocs’ Footwear Fairytale
Who Attends NCAA Final Four Events?
Eclipse Fever: How Did the (Retail and Hospitality) Stars Align?
Exploring Albertsons Companies’ Grocery Growth
Placer.ai Mall Index: March 2024 Recap – Malls Rise Again
Placer.ai Office Index: March 2024 Recap
Florida Spring Break Break-Up? Travelers Still Love Florida!
Provo-Orem and Ogden-Clearfield Emerging As Utah Hotspots 
Three Formulas for Experiential Retail in 2024
Aldi & Lidl Making The Cut
Texas Suburbs on the Rise
Exploring Luxury Hotel Brands’ Guest Segmentation
The St. Patrick’s Day Effect
How Can JOANN Make a Comeback?
Panera Bread Well Positioned for Possible IPO
Who Will Benefit From Family Dollar’s Downsizing?
Dave & Buster’s and Main Event Entertainment: Food and Fun for Everyone
Darden Brands: Location Analytics and Consumer Behavior
Nike and lululemon: a Strong 2023, Sprinting into 2024
Where Is Retail and Dining Foot Traffic Thriving in Early 2024?
Placer.ai White Paper Recap – February 2024
Three Retail & Dining Chains That May Surprise in 2024
Specialty Discount Chains Rock Retail Therapy
Placer.ai Mall Index: February 2024
Placer.ai Office Index: February 2024 Recap
Ulta Beauty Continues To Shine
First Watch Sails Into 2024
Hibbett Sports and DICK’S Sporting Goods: A Psychographic Analysis
Checking in With Discount & Dollar Stores
Peeking Behind The Curtain: Movie Theaters in 2023 and Beyond
Diving Into Brick-and-Mortar Eyewear
Getting Into Gear: Exploring The Auto Part Industry
Recapping Valentine’s Day 2024 Foot Traffic Trends
Fitness: A Strong Start to 2024
Dutch Bros. Continues To Percolate Visits
Super Bowl 2024: Placer.ai’s Postgame Foot Traffic Analysis
CAVA & sweetgreen Are On the Rise
Hats Off For Off-Price
Who Is Shopping at Malls?
Drilling Down Into Home Improvement
Walmart, Target, Costco & Superstore Space 2023 Recap
Catching Up With Shake Shack and Wingstop
Something To Chew On: Demographic Shifts at Steakhouse Chains
Placer.ai Office Index: Looking Back at 2023
Recapping RBI & Yum! Brands’ 2023 Foot Traffic Performance
Placer.ai White Paper Recap – January 2024
Who Shops at Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters?
Three Taco Chains to Watch in 2024
Starbucks and Dunkin’: 2023 in Four Data Points
Who Visits CVS and Walgreens?
Fashionably Frugal: Apparel in 2023
Catching Up With Fast Food
The Grocery Sector in 2023: An End-of-Year Recap