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Pandemic Cools Breakfast Sales At Fast-Food Restaurants

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Demand for breakfast items has cooled off at the nation’s fast-food restaurants as Americans find themselves increasingly stuck at home during the morning hours, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Prior to the pandemic, breakfast had been viewed as a recipe for success, with quick-service restaurants (QSRs) vying to cater to the needs of Americans constantly on the go. But amid constant lockdowns and slowdowns, breakfast items are now proving to be a drag on sales and contributing to a sector-wide downturn.

Several of the leading fast-food chains have reported weak breakfast sales, including Dine Brands Global (DIN), Dunkin’ Brands Group (DNKN), McDonald’s (MCD) and Restaurant Brands International’s Burger King. Friendly’s, the breakfast-focused chain, was recently forced into bankruptcy protection due to poor sales. Yum Brand’s Taco Bell is now offering breakfast items at only about half of its stores, according to the Journal.

Take-out breakfast has also proven to be a challenge, as breakfast items don’t tend to hold up well once they’ve left the restaurant.

One outlier has been Wendy’s, which recently said breakfast accounts for around 7 percent of sales, a range it had expected before the pandemic. Wendy’s now plans to ramp up the promotion of their breakfast items to attract customers from competitors, the report noted.

Coffee sales have also chilled. In an effort to lure back regular customers, Panera offered free coffee this summer and promoted the offer actively on social media. And Starbucks recently revamped its loyalty program, allowing U.S. and Canadian customers to earn points through its rewards program even if they pay at the store and not through the program’s app.

Meanwhile, makers of breakfast items have reported a surge in demand as workers and students stuck at home head to the kitchen every morning for their first meal of the day.

Shifts in breakfast behavior may be here to stay, at least for the next several months. According to a PYMNTS report, most consumers believe the pandemic will be in effect until next February.

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