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Fast Food Breakfast Sales Have Plummeted Due to the Pandemic

McDonald's, Dunkin', and Starbucks have seen a major decline in breakfast sales.

EMILY CARPENTER/THRILLIST

Our work commutes have become comically short since the pandemic began in March. For many of us, that means a trip from our beds to the couch and back again -- without much opportunity for that early morning McDonald's run we were accustomed to pre-coronavirus. And now, fast food and fast casual chains are reporting the effects.

OG on-the-go breakfast spots like Starbucks, Dunkin', Panera, and Micky D's have announced a major decline in am sales as a result of COVID-19, Business Insider reported. While prior to the pandemic, the market saw a major surge with Panera launching its coffee subscription service and Wendy's debuting its own national breakfast menu mere weeks before lockdowns began.

"Breakfast ... prior to the pandemic was the only day part that was growing," McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinski said on a call with investors this week, the outlet reports. "And so as a result, there were a lot of new competitors that were flooding into the breakfast day part. That certainly was one area of pressure for us." 

Dunkin' and Starbucks have reported a similar downturn in breakfast menu sales. So much so that both coffee giants shifted their hours as a direct result of later-day trends. Meanwhile at Panera, customers haven't nixed their caffeine habits altogether but are showing up for their cup of joe later in the day. 

"There's not much recovery in the breakfast day part right now. In terms of day part, breakfast has dried up," Panera CEO Niren Chaudhary told BI. "If anything, we're seeing the consumption of coffee starting later in the morning than it used to, and kind of extend more through the day than it has done in the past." 

While the decline has proven a major setback for many industry favorites, breakfast menu newbie Wendy's has actually seen the opposite. The pigtailed fast food joint reported that its new am offerings had already made up 8% of sales by May -- a goal the company had hoped to reach by the end of 2020.

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Megan Schaltegger is a staff writer at Thrillist.
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