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Industry Trends January 2022

US Quick-Service Trends

As we enter a new year, this month’s report will provide an overview of Quick-Service restaurants (QSR) in 2021. To best assess the performance of QSRs in the US, we compared 2021 sales, traffic and average check trends to 2019.

  • In December 2021, average check was up 22% compared to the same period in 2019. Sales were up 8%.
  • Traffic trends in December remained below 2019, at -11%.
  • Comparing month over month, both average check and sales saw a slight increase since November 2021. Traffic, which had remained stable since September 2021, also increased from -13% in November to -11% during the holiday season in the US.
  • While December is typically a time to dine out, this year was once again affected by the pandemic. The rapid spread of the omicron variant throughout the US caused many to avoid full-service restaurants and resort back to dining at home, possibly increasing QSR traffic.
  • This isn’t the first time consumers resorted to off-premise channels. We observed the same behaviors during previous COVID-19 waves in January and August 2021.
  • Drive-thru also held steady as the preferred channel for consumers throughout 2021. In our latest consumer report, drive-thru outperformed all other channels, with 76% of respondents stating that they purchase food from a drive-thru at least once a week.
  • The continued average check growth for QSRs can be partly explained by one large factor that played a key role in 2021: inflation. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, prices at limited-service restaurants increased by 7.10%, surpassing full-service increases of 5.9%. Both are the biggest increases ever recorded by BLS.

RMS will continue to observe QSR trends as COVID-19 outbreaks slow and customers regain confidence in eating out. Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list to get monthly industry trends delivered straight to your inbox.


Consultant’s Corner

How Is Price Sensitivity Affecting Customer Decision Making?

Many restaurants are taking price now. But before implementing increases, we recommend that operators consider how price sensitivity is affecting customer decision-making in this dynamic environment. In our latest Quick Bites, RMS’ Matt Parker and Francois Acerra address price sensitivity and other important topics restaurant operators should keep in mind in 2022. For more tips and consumer insights, check out the full episode.


RMS stands ready to support restaurant brands through these ever-changing times. Reach out to us today for practical strategies designed to optimize menu profitability, sales and financial health.

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