One of the curious aspects of the burgeoning post-COVID recovery is which economic segments are experiencing it first. IT is one of the segments predicted to be recovering, while the travel industry will likely take years to come back to where it was in 2019, according to a post in The Hub.
Still, there's one area in the fast-food category that doesn't really need to recover: breakfast, which has been a safe haven during the pandemic. While overall traffic to restaurants fell 2% in the second quarter, breakfast and morning snacks held steady, according to NPD.
That’s been good news for Wendy’s, which first rolled out its breakfast menu nationwide in early 2020, just weeks before the COVID-induced lockdown. That launch was a hit. Wendy’s grew its breakfast sales by about 25%. This year, the chain expects to grow sales by 10% to 25%, according to CNBC.
And even before the pandemic, breakfast was the only meal that drew a growing number of customers to fast-food chains.
McDonald’s, the leader in the breakfast category, introduced a cheese Danish, an item that hasn’t been on its menu since the 1980s.
But looking ahead, the focus on breakfast is perhaps best news for Starbucks, the No. 2 fast-food chain, according to QSR magazine. This past week Starbucks announced a reinvention plan that includes investing $450 million into its existing store base over the next three years or so. One change is a cold beverage station, which reduces the time it takes to make such beverages, and a new technology for making cold-press coffee in a matter of seconds.
Another new change is Clover Vertica, which offers a freshly brewed cup of coffee in 30 seconds. Such technology is planned to hit all Starbucks stores in the next three years.
Starbucks announced a partnership with Volvo and ChargePoint in August, with a plan to install electric vehicle chargers at 15 Starbucks stores along a 1,350-mile route from the Colorado Rockies to Starbucks headquarters in Seattle by the end of the year. If EVs continue their growth, then Starbucks could become an option for many taking road trips in coming years.
In addition, Starbucks has inked a new partnership with DoorDash, which will expand to a national scale alongside Uber Eats in 2023.
Starbucks’ growth plan is an ambitious one that may even propel it past McDonald’s in the near future, according to a piece in Nation’s Restaurant News.
As consumers get back into their morning routines and experience busy morning commutes, “they are using restaurants more and more for the convenience and value they provide on the way to work or dropping off the kids,” Aaron Jordan, director of international research and insights at Technomic, told Marketing Daily. “Now, restaurants give back that time in the morning people had been spending preparing breakfast and doing the dishes.”