Extended hours--including 24-hour operation -- are on the rise among QSRs, and helping to drive growth, or at least compensate for the lower traffic patterns that many have seen during traditional dayparts.
McDonald's is a major case in point. The world's leading QSR -- which just reported another strong quarter, as well as full-year 2011 results including a 4.8% gain in U.S. same-store sales and a global sales gain of 5.6% -- said that midnight to 5 am is its fastest-growing time segment in the U.S. In fact, those hours have seen double the growth rate of the chain's lunch and breakfast dayparts.
About 40% of McDonald's' U.S. locations now operate around the clock, versus 30% seven years ago, reports The Wall Street Journal.
As recently reported in Marketing Daily, Denny's, which has long offered 24/7 hours, is emphasizing this more than ever to attract Millennials, in particular. The chain changed added the point to its tagline, which is now "America's Diner is Always Open," and is promoting the always-open theme through social media, humorous Webisodes and other Gen Y-popular channels.
Now, however, not just McDonald's, but Burger King and others have hopped on the 24-hour bandwagon.
Hundreds of Burger King units now offer 24-hour service (at minimum, BK requires restaurant operators to stay open until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays and until 11 pm the rest of the week), WSJ reports. Dunkin' Donuts has nearly doubled the number of its units open round the clock over the past decade, with nearly a third of the total 7,000+ in the U.S. now operating on that basis.
The trend isn't just being driven by Millennials out looking for a casual late-night pace to hang and nosh. One-fifth of Americans now work mostly in the evening or at night, or have rotating schedules; and more people have taken on second jobs to make ends meet.