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Checking in with RBI and YUM!

by 
Lila Margalit
 on 
April 24, 2024
Checking in with RBI and YUM!

Amid the economic headwinds that plagued the wider dining industry in 2022 and 2023, the QSR and Fast Casual segments offered price-conscious consumers places to treat themselves to affordable indulgences and grab quick meals on the go. 

Many of the major chains in this space – including Burger King, Popeyes, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and KFC – are brands owned by Restaurant Brands International (RBI) or Yum! Brands. How are these players faring in 2024? 

We dove into the data to find out.

Key Takeaways

  • RBI’s Popeyes and Tim Hortons experienced positive quarterly visit growth in Q1 2024, 
  • Quarterly traffic numbers for RBI’s Burger King held steady, even as rightsizing efforts boosted the chain’s average number of visits per venue. Firehouse Subs, for its part,  was significantly impacted by January’s inclement weather – but rallied in February and March with YoY visit growth.
  • YUM! Brand’s Pizza Hut and Taco Bell also enjoyed positive visit growth in Q1 2024.
  • Both RBI and YUM! Brands are finding success with promotions and limited time offerings: Pizza Hut drew huge numbers of fans on Super Bowl Sunday, while Firehouse Subs drove visits with its leap day special.

RBI Chains Enjoy Mostly Positive Visit Growth

Restaurant Brands International, Inc. owns three leading QSR banners – Burger King, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, and Tim Hortons – as well as Fast Casual chain Firehouse Subs. And since December 2023, all four chains have experienced mainly-positive year-over-year monthly (YoY) foot traffic growth – with the stark exception of January 2024, when unusually cold weather caused overall dining visits to dip.

The January Arctic Blast did not impact all RBI brands equally: Coffee favorite Tim Horton managed to maintain positive visit growth throughout the first month of the year, perhaps thanks to the chain’s emphasis on hot drinks. On the other hand, YoY visits to Firehouse Subs dropped 8.8% in January 2024 – so although the traffic picked back up in February and March, the brand still finished out Q1 2024 with a minor YoY quarterly visit gap.

Popeyes, for its part, enjoyed a 4.4% quarterly visit bump in Q1 2024, fueled in part by the chain’s fleet expansion. And though Burger King ended the quarter with just a slight overall quarterly visit increase (0.3%), this is likely a reflection of the chain’s rightsizing efforts: In Q1 2024, the average number of visits to each of the chain’s venues increased by 4.3%.

YUM! Brand’s Largest Banners Poised to Thrive

Yum! Brands also owns three major fast food chains – Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and KFC – in addition to Fast Casual The Habit Burger Grill. And though KFC – which has been focusing on international expansion – maintained a Q1 2024 YoY visit gap, quarterly visits to YUM!’s two biggest QSR banners, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, were up 4.3% and 3.8%, respectively. 

Making the Most of Super Bowl and Leap Day

Neither RBI nor YUM! banners are resting on their laurels. Banners at both companies are finding creative ways to drive business, leaning into limited time offers (LTOs) to help customers mark special occasions.

RBI’s Firehouse Subs celebrated leap day – Thursday, February 29th, 2024 – with a special 2-for-1 LTO for customers whose names start with the letters L, E, A, or P. The day of the promotion was the restaurant’s single busiest Thursday between March 2023 and March 2024: Visits were up 21.5% compared to an average Thursday, and about 6.0% compared to an average Friday or Saturday (Firehouse Sub’s two busiest days of the week).

Super Bowl Sunday came this year just two days after National Pizza Day – and YUM!’s Pizza Hut enticed hungry viewers with crowd-pleasing limited time menu offerings. Although many football fans likely ordered their grub online, February 11th, 2024 was still the chain’s busiest day of the past year – with visits up 47.5% compared to a daily average. In the Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV CBSA, which hosted Super Bowl LVIII, Pizza Hut’s big-day visit spike was an even more impressive 74.1%. 

Final Thoughts

Inflation may have cooled, but food-away-from-home prices remain high – and are likely to continue to increase this year. Against this backdrop, companies like RBI and YUM! that offer hungry consumers affordable ways to fill up and have fun appear poised for success. 

Follow Placer.ai for more data-driven dining insights.

This blog includes data from Placer.ai Data Version 2.0, which implements improvements to our extrapolation capabilities, adds short visit monitoring, and enhances visit detection. ‍

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