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The quarantine diet: People are eating more pizza and chicken wings, boosting sales at Papa John's and Wingstop as other restaurants face sales slumps

Wingstop wings 14
  • Wingstop and Papa John's reported same-store sales grew by more than 26% in April, as other restaurants struggle to overcome the sales slump related to the coronavirus pandemic. 
  • The National Restaurant Association said in late April that the industry lost $30 billion in March and was on track to lose $50 billion in April. 
  • In a recent survey, 43% of respondents said that they had increased their use of pizza delivery over the last week. 
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As Americans shelter in place and restaurant sales suffer, a few chains are thriving.
On Wednesday, Wingstop reported same-store sales were up by more than 30% in April. Papa John's had similarly cheery earnings the same day, with same-store sales up 26.9% in April.
Even in late March, when restaurant sales were the lowest across the industry, wings and pizza remained popular. Wingstop said its sales were up 8.9% in the second half of March. Papa John's reported at the end of March that its same-store sales were "negatively impacted by the cancellation of large gatherings," but that sales were up 3.6% in the last month. 
Papa Johns supreme pizza 14
These sales explosions are in stark contrast to the rest of the restaurant industry.
While fast-food chains have generally weathered the coronavirus pandemic better than the industry as a whole, chains such as McDonald's, Burger King, and Taco Bell said that sales dropped by 20% to 35% in late March.
Restaurants without drive-thrus faced an even more dire financial situation. Waffle House's same-store sales dropped by 70% to 80% in late March at locations that remained open, the company told Business Insider. The Cheesecake Factory saw similar declines, with sales down roughly 75% before beginning to recover in April.
The National Restaurant Association said in late April that the industry lost $30 billion in March and was on track to lose $50 billion in April.
Wingstop wings 11
Wingstop and Papa John's, as well as other delivery-centric pizza chains, have cashed in on customers sheltering in place. Americans were already familiar with the chains' to-go business, and companies had the necessary infrastructure in place to ramp up sales, with an emphasis on digital ordering.
Wingstop said on Wednesday that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, off-premise already made up 80% of sales. Now, all of the chain's business is to-go and delivery, with digital sales growing to 65% from 40% of sales.
Even as chains across the board push to-go and delivery offers, customers seem to be craving some foods more than others. A whopping 43% of respondents to a Gordon Haskett survey of more than 300 households said that they had increased their use of pizza delivery in the week ending May 1 — the highest percentage since analysts began surveying people on pizza orders in February.
SEE ALSO: Wendy's defied the odds and successfully launched breakfast during the coronavirus pandemic, creating a massive new problem for fast-food rivals like McDonald's and Taco Bell
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