The top 500 largest chain restaurants in the United States all showed growth in sales during 2010, with an average annual rise of 1.8%. Technomic’s annual report on these top chains showed that, despite a slumping economy, total sales among these 500 chains rose over $4 billion since 2009.
The recent rise in sales is a good indication that the restaurant industry will soon see improvements, especially as the economy slowly recovers. Chain restaurant growth or loss is a good indicator of overall industry health because one chain will often have locations in every state of the country, providing details on where the restaurant industry is growing and where it is shrinking.
The most growth appeared to be in the limited-service area, notably the Coffee & Other Beverages, Donut and Pizza categories. Pizza Hut, Starbucks and Dunkin’s Donuts all saw sales growth in 2009 between 8.7 (Starbucks) and 6.1 (Dunkin’ Donuts) percent. McDonald’s, the country’s largest chain, managed a 4.4% annual sales increase. Subway, which is the second largest chain in the US and the first largest in the world, grabbed a 6% increase and tops the Other Sandwich category. Asian was another category featuring large growth, with an average of 9.3% and a top sales growth of 12.8% from Panda Express.
Full service casual dining chains are also growing well. Chipotle Mexican Grill led the popular Mexican category with estimated sales growth of 20.7% in 2009. Fast-casual hamburger chains are also doing well, topped out by Five Guys Burger and Fries at 37.8% annual sales growth. The biggest comeback came from the Steak group, which flipped a 6.4% drop in 2009 to a 2.2% growth in 2010.