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Insight of the Day: Fast food is getting faster, data shows

The article discusses the trends in the fast-food industry, highlighting the increasing speed of service and traffic growth in quick-service restaurants (QSR) and fast-casual chains compared to full-service dining establishments. Data from shows that visits to QSR and fast-casual restaurants have been on the rise year over year, while traffic at full-service chains has been relatively flat or declining.

The disparity in visit numbers between different restaurant categories is attributed to the higher speed of service in QSR and fast-casual establishments, making fast food even faster and giving these segments a competitive edge. This trend may lead some full-service chains to explore faster production methods during slower dayparts to remain competitive.

A study by looked at major QSR chains such as Taco Bell, Wendy's, and Chick-fil-A, which have seen improvements in speed of service over the years. The share of visits lasting 10 minutes or less at these chains has increased, indicating a trend towards faster service to meet consumer demands for quick and efficient dining experiences.

As the labor productivity of the restaurant industry increases and labor turnover decreases, the overall speed of service is likely to improve. Full-service brands are expected to experiment with faster service models, such as takeaway-focused venues or fast-casual concepts, to attract more customers during weekdays and busy lunch hours.

Some casual dining brands, like Red Robin, are focusing on on-premise service, while others, like Denny's, are exploring virtual brands and takeaway-focused concepts to adapt to changing consumer preferences and enhance their offerings. Overall, the data suggests that the fast-food industry is evolving to meet the demand for quicker service and more convenient dining options.

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