If you drive past a fast-food restaurant and notice a parking lot full of vehicles — chances are it looks a lot like other fast-food establishments. McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s all reported same-store sales of greater than 3 percent in the second quarter. That’s a lot of sandwiches, fries, and beverages.
Sure, salads might also have been purchased — although let’s be honest: Fast-food salads are the electric vehicle of quick-service restaurants. We occasionally see people with them, and that’s about it.
An article in the New York Post explained that fast-food sales are growing faster than the U.S. economy: “The economy was a meager 2.6 percent in the second quarter,” wrote Lisa Fickenscher on Thursday. “The GDP in the U.S. has not produced an annual uptick of 3 percent or greater in the last 10 years.”
While it’s correct the GDP has seen better years, it’s not as if Republicans and Democrats haven’t had their opportunities to make things better for the economy. Regardless, Dan Celia of Financial Issues Stewardship Ministries sees it another way.
“Fast-food chains are playing catch-up,” said Celia, who is based in Philadelphia, told LifeZette. “If they are growing faster than the U.S. economy, it is as the result of more discretionary spending income being put in the pockets of consumers as it relates to a growing economy.”
If it’s an issue of discretionary spending, then people may be spending more cautiously, at least when it comes to eating out. For example, higher-priced restaurants have not done as well as fast-food joints, a trend that’s been occurring for months if not years depending on the establishment. Fickenscher also mentions this in her New York Post article.
People do seem more cautious. The cost of living is not cheap — and unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know health insurance premiums are outrageous. Meanwhile, many people remain underemployed, namely millennials struggling to pay off student loans.
On the other side of the argument: A lot of people don’t have time.
“People are busier, so they are eating out more, but they are not feeling that much richer so they want to eat fast food,” said Diana Furchtgott-Roth, senior fellow and director of Economics 21 at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. “The increase in the minimum wage has made some restaurants more expensive, but fast food is still affordable.”
Furchtgott-Roth added that fast food has expanded.
“It is not just burgers anymore, but California Tortilla, Chipotle, Sweetgreen, Domino’s, etc.,” she explained. “There are a lot of different options out there.”
Furchtgott-Roth’s point is a good one — though some people just have cravings.
This writer enjoys eating fast food on occasion, and when I do I tend to go to a particular chain. Why? It’s cheap, I get plenty to eat, and all the customers are free to spend their money however they like.
Chris Woodward is a reporter for American Family News and OneNewsNow.com. Based in Mississippi, he is also a contributor to OneMillionDads.com and EngageMagazine.net and a regular contributor to LifeZette.
(photo credit, homepage image: Kici, Wikimedia)